Advent this year starts on Sunday November 29 and runs through Thursday December 24. While we have more than a month to go before Advent even starts, the end of October and throughout November are great times to plan ahead for this season.
For seniors of faith in an assisted living community, Advent may bring numerous desires and wishes. If this is your first year in your assisted living apartment, you might be longing for Advent traditions from past years. And with COVID-19 constantly changing the landscape of what people are willing and can safely do together, some traditions you were hoping to engage in this season may be off the table or altered.
But that doesn’t mean Advent can’t be a special and enjoyable time. Here are some tips for celebrating Advent in your assisted living apartment and community with some options that you can start preparing today.
One tradition many Christians share is the lighting of the advent wreath. These circular décor items represent the unending nature of God and his boundless love and grace. They hold a certain number of candles — most often four with another in the center. Different traditions call for different colored candles.
For example, in some churches, three of the outer candles are blue or purple. These stand for hope, faith and joy. The fourth outer candle is typically pink or rose-tone. It stands for peace.
On the first Sunday of Advent, one of the blue/purple candles is lit. Congregations or families might read a Scripture passage on hope. The next Sunday, two blue/purple candles are lit — the hope candle is relit, and the faith candle is lit for the first time.
This process repeats each Sunday of advent, with the hope candle being lit the last Sunday. On Christmas Eve, all the outer candles are relit along with the middle candle, which is white. This one is called the Christ’s candle, and it represents purity and light. When lighting the candles each Sunday, groups might reflect on the meaning of the candles, especially in reference to the Christmas story.
Autumn View Gardens doesn’t allow lit candles in assisted living apartments for safety reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this tradition. Prepare now by shopping for battery-operated LED candles you can set up in a beautiful arrangement on a shelf or table so you can enjoy this tradition in your apartment.
Advent is a beautiful time of year, and many people of faith take these weeks to find new meaning in stories they might have heard for years. Consider diving into an Advent Bible study to find that meaning this year.
You can pick something to read in your own quiet time, check out the activity calendar to see if a Bible study is happening or ask some neighbors to join you for a weekend study and conversation.
Some options to consider include:
• Advent: The Weary World Rejoices, which is a 5-week study from Lifeway.
• NIV, Once-A-Day 25 Days of Advent, which is a daily devotional for the season.
• Unwrapping the Name of Jesus: An Advent Devotional, which helps you focus on Christ during the season.
• Online resources, such as Bible Project’s Advent Series
Many people of all ages are used to being busy during the Advent season. Whether you normally do lots of shopping, attend meals at churches and community events or visit family, you might be looking at more limited options this season. So, take a proactive step to ensure you have some fun ways of worshipping, fellowshipping and celebrating.
Check the activities calendar for December to see what’s happening in the community so you can schedule your time to be able to attend the events that you’re interested in. Ask about any special dining opportunities and whether there will be options for baking and crafting in the holiday spirit.
You can also talk to your friends in the assisted living community to see if anyone else is interested in doing anything to celebrate with you. Try to plan something fun at least once each week as you count down through the Advent season. Some options might include:
• A game afternoon or evening. Get together in a common area and play cards and games while enjoying snacks and beverages.
• A Secret Santa gift swap. Put everyone’s name in a hat in November and exchange gifts on one Sunday during Advent.
• Christmas crafting party. Have everyone bring what supplies and tools they have and gather to make cards, ornaments and other decorative items or gifts.
• Hot cocoa event. Bundle up in your favorite jackets, grab a blanket and settle with others outdoors to toast with hot cocoa and enjoy the coming of a beautiful winter evening.
• Gather around a common area or go door-to-door in the community sharing songs of the season with others.