Recently, I was asked how does your family prepare for advent. The question was posed in a group where the women were feeling overwhelmed by the christmas shopping, decorating and planning family events. We all want to hold on to baby Jesus and not let go. But how can we do that in a culture where giving to needy takes on a whole different level. Now we feel terrible if a child were to receive only ONE present during christmas no matter if all that child’s needs and more are met all year long.
Currently, I had been pondering about various ways to counter this problem since I live in a mixed culture home. I hail from entirely the opposite part of the world from my husband. My memories of Christmas are so beautiful with the focus on the christ child. We were truly excited for the Birthday of Jesus. We made the crib ready for him to be born in our house. The nativity scenes there were called cribs and we had lots of fun trying to find the right kind of tree limbs that looked mostly like pines in the tropical part of the world. We used twigs and lights to decorate the nativity scene with the empty manger. On Christmas eve we broke our fast from meat and celebrated Jesus’ birthday with plum cake and placed him in his manger with songs and prayers. We received no presents except the greatest gift, the Christ child whom we prepared to receive in our hearts all advent long.
My mother spent a few years with the nuns before she got married and she learned a lot of great things from them. One of the things she learned and saved (handwritten) were their prayers for Christmas. As a family, we used those handwritten prayers of hers every year to prepare for Christmas. It was a combination of St.Andrew’s Novena and various spiritual bouquets with aspirations. These notes were all written in malayalam. Although my father had scanned in my mother’s diary and copied prayers for us to use in our families, I had not yet been able to make it happen. This is partly because the prayers were in malayalam and not in English.
Today, as I was sharing my childhood Christmas with my friends I realized it’s time to translate and share these beautiful prayers with others. This is my gift to you…