The wait adds meaning to the moment (guest post by Sibella Giorello)

Renee Ann Smith —  December 15, 2011 — 13 Comments

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas Pearls of Wisdom from some of today’s most beloved writers as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched lives during this most wonderful time of the year.

By Sibella Giorello

Consider the bride’s walk down the aisle. We all know where that woman in white is going, but somehow waiting for her to arrive at the altar is an essential part of the ceremony. In fact, the waiting is so essential that even cheapskate Vegas chapels include wedding marches.

Why? Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

At Christmas time, we tend to forget this essential truth about anticipation. We’re lost to shopping malls and checklists, rushing toward December 25th so quickly that we forget the quiet joy of the month’s other 24 days. And then we wonder why we feel so empty on the 26th, amid ribbons and wrapping paper and our best intentions.

Because the wait adds meaning to the moment.

And that is why Advent is so important to Christmas.

I’m as guilty as the next harried person. This Advent was particularly tricky because just six hours before it started, I was still trying to finish a 110,000-word novel that was written over the course of the year—written while homeschooling my kids, keeping my hubby happy, and generally making sure the house didn’t fall down around us.

It’s an understatement to say my free time is limited. But waiting adds meaning, and Advent is crucial to Christmas, so I’ve devised several Advent traditions that are simple, powerful and easy to keep even amid the seasonal rush.

When my kids outgrew simple Advent calendars around age 7, I stole an idea from my writer friend Shelly Ngo (as T.S. Eliot said, “Mediocre writers borrow. Great writers steal.” Indulge me.)

Here’s how it goes: Find 24 great Christmas books, wrap them individually and place then under the tree. On the first day of Advent, take turns picking which book to open. When we did this, we would cuddle under a blanket and read aloud—oh, the wonder, the magic! We savored The Polar Express, howled with How Murray Saved Christmas, and fell silent at the end of The Tale of The Three Trees.

(Note: some of the picture books I chose were not explicitly about Christmas, but they always echoed the message that Jesus came to earth to save us from ourselves and to love us beyond our wildest imagination. In that category, Angela Hunt’s retelling of The Three Trees definitely hits the Yuletide bull’s eye).

This Advent tradition lasted for about five years. It gave us rich daily discussions about the season’s real meaning, without being religious or legalistic, and it increased family couch time. But like the lift-the-flap calendars, my kids outgrew the picture books.

Because the wait adds meaning, and Advent is crucial, I prayed for another way to celebrate the anticipation of Christmas. By the grace of God, last year I found an enormous Advent calendar on  clearance at Pottery Barn. Made of burlap, it has large pockets big enough to hold some serious bounty.

But my husband and I didn’t want the kids focusing only on the materialist stuff for Advent. We already fight that on Christmas day. We decided to fill the daily pockets with simple necessities and small gift cards. We also printed out the nativity story from Luke 2:1-21 in a large-sized font and cut each verse out. From Day 1 to Day 21, there is one verse to read aloud. The kids memorize it, then get to open their present (again, on alternating days for each person). Then we tape the verse to the wall in order. By Day 22, all the verses are on the wall, in order, and the kids now try to recite the entire nativity story from memory. That’s not as difficult as it sounds because they’ve been memorizing one verse each day. Still, the entire recitation—verbatim—usually requires Day 23 and Day 24. Whoever does memorize the entire thing—without mistakes—earns a bonus gift of $25.

Does that sounds extravagant?

It is.

Because we want our kids to understand that God came down and humbled himself and taught us about love right before He suffered and died on behalf of the undeserving—which is every one of us.

That’s extravagant.

And in the waiting, we find even more meaning.


Sibella Giorello writes the Raleigh Harmon mystery series, which won the Christy Award with its first book The Stones Cry Out. She lives in Washington state with her husband and children, and often wishes there were 36 hours in a day. ***The Kindle version of The Stones Cry Out is under $5 right now! (Check my new page for more Kindle Deals.)

These are links to my reviews of Sibella’s books: The Clouds Roll Away and The Mountains Bow Down.

AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will on announced on 1/1. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. You may enter once per day.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

I’m linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday and Thankful Thursday.

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

13 responses to The wait adds meaning to the moment (guest post by Sibella Giorello)

  1. Those are such great ideas!! When I was little, I loved doing small activities for Advent with my mom and siblings. The ideas listed above are some good ones I’ll tuck away for whenever the time comes when we start our own family 🙂

  2. Helene,
    So glad you were inspired by these ideas. Have a wonder-filled Christmas!


  3. I love the idea of opening a book and reading it. I’m so thankful I have grandkids to read to… So many wonderful ideas. Merry Christmas!

  4. The Wait adds meaning to the moment….
    I love this.
    I’ve been struggling with advent if I’m being honest. This has been truly helpful to me.
    love your ideas! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. I love the idea of memorizing Luke 2. What a meaningful way to observe the Advent.

  6. This is a wonderful post Renee Ann. I am featuring it as one of NOBH’s weekly links. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  7. Thanks for stopping by, ladies! And I’m so glad you’re linking Sibella’s post on NOBH, Lynda. I hope it blesses many 🙂

  8. I SOOOOOO wanted to do this book advent this year but have run out of time. I am planning this for next year though for sure! I would love for you to link this up to My Favorite Things Friday Party that just started for the week. I’m stopping by from the Serenity Now Party.

  9. i enjoyed this post. great ideas. the tale of the three trees is one of my favorite stories! thanks for sharing!

  10. I love these ideas! Wishing I had heard them closer to the start of Advent but now the waiting will begin again soon. I love the Pearl Girls too. Happy waiting to you.

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