Simone Maria, a Trini-born UK blogger, shares her post at the start of the Advent season.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. A time of hope and waiting. Growing up, we always celebrated Advent in our home.
My mum would make the Advent wreath of the three purple candles, a pink one, and the white one in the centre. Each Advent Sunday night, my brothers and I would light one of the candles in the order of our birth which worked out well as the third candle, the pink one, coincided with my Sunday for lighting. Mum and dad would light the white one in the middle on Christmas morning.
As a child it was easy to see Advent as a time of joyful anticipation. It usually marked the start of the Christmas season for us as mum would try to put up the Christmas tree in time for Advent, and school vacation would be around the corner. Parang would be playing on the radio by then as well adding to the feeling of Christmas.
As adults, we still try very hard to hold on to this tradition. Brett’s daughters now light his candle on the first Sunday of Advent in his memory. Kirk and Maritza have also introduced Christmas movie night, so whoever’s night it is to light the candle also chooses a Christmas movie and we watch it together after with hot chocolate (or red wine) and some bites.
Hasani and I when away, light our own candles, and send a picture via WhatsApp, and some years make it home in time for my, now our, pink candle to be lit. And Nicki squared (Nicholas and Nilka) light the fourth.
I always look forward to these Advent Sunday nights. Even last year, although we couldn’t go home, there was a feeling of hope when we sent our pics. This year however, hope feels like a fragile glass threatening to fall and shatter into pieces.
Last night Alba woke up at 10 p.m. and refused to go back to sleep. Hasani and I groggily trudged into the living room searching desperately for ‘Bidey’ (one of Alba’s toys that she is convinced is incy wincy spider).
By the time we located Bidey, which of course was actually in the crib in our bedroom, Alba was up and ready to rumble, so we put on the BBC to hear the updates with Omicron.
We heard about the reintroduction of travel and Covid restrictions, and news that this strain is even more contagious. Suddenly, I found myself mentally assessing all the risks with Alba, and deciding which weekly activities I was going to stop attending with her, and what measures we had to reintroduce into our daily lives that we may have let slip since receiving our double jab.
Most importantly though,Hasani and I found ourselves discussing whether or not we would still be able to go home for Christmas, the possibility of our having to cut our stay short if more travel restrictions come into place while we are home, how we would protect Alba on the journey to Trinidad and while there, and even contemplating if we should just bunker down to another Christmas in our flat, our little safe zone in what is now a very scary world.
This morning I woke up and for the first time in months clicked open the Christian meditation daily email my mum signed me up for years ago, that I can’t bring myself to block because I think it would be a sin and I really hate confession. I remembered that today was the first day of Advent and that I have to put up our wreath.
To be honest, I haven’t been a good Catholic this year in that I haven’t watched Mass every Sunday, and sometimes my daily prayers only consisted of “Jesus Christ, please grant me patience with this child (Alba)”.
But I believe in traditions and habits and carrying out actions even when the fire behind it dwindles. So, my hope and prayer this Advent is just the tiny flicker on that one candle that will be lit tonight in the early winter darkness of our flat, but here’s to hoping that by Christmas Day, when the entire wreath is lit, I will be home in Trinidad with the sunshine and warmth pouring through the windows, surrounded by family.