completed runner I completed the table runner, and here is an impressionistic photo of it, rather wet and wrinkly from being washed.

It is the first day of Advent. You will be lighting a purple candle and singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel”. If you are observing Advent, that is. If you click on the link, you will find the most important advent hymn in English and in Latin. People have been singing this in Latin for nine centuries, but I mostly only hear it in the English translation of John M. Neale, who also cut it down to the five most familiar verses. Many churches sing this every Sunday in Advent, and many Christians meditate upon it throughout the season.

Advent is for preparing for Christmas spiritually. Even if you don’t observe it, you might benefit from this practice. Are there relationship issues that keep you from enjoying your family at the holidays? Do materialism and covetousness mar gift-giving for you? Do you wish you did more for charity or for your community, but find it hard to get past the natural selfishness that keeps you from it? Do you continue to measure yourself against magazine pictures that make you feel inadequate at this time of year?

I didn’t mean to pry. I’m just listing some of the things people include in their soul-searching at Advent.

At the very least, it is four weeks of peaceful contemplation, which we sorely need when surrounded by the madness of secular American Christmas.

I have to say that I rather enjoyed yesterday’s shopping expedition. People are still happy and bustling about cheerfully, and #2 son came with me. He’s a fun guy. He is not helpful on the subject of shoes, but he is fun. I followed knitsteel’s advice and bought silver (matte fabric, not metallic) pumps with a circular ornament nearly matching the buckle of the jacket.

But we were distracted in our grocery shopping. We did get fruits and vegetables and such, but we also bought German cookies and forgot cat food, because there was this general air of festivity that was more compatible with imported sweets than with cat food.

I had only a moment of “Eek! Get me out of here!” when walking into Target to pick up my prescription, and otherwise was able to enjoy the decorations and then actually go on to two more stores and the post office before packing it in. The happy calls of “Merry Christmas” and the holiday music were fun, and I was thankful that I only had a budgeted amount of money with me, because it would have been easy to disregard the fact that I have finished my Christmas shopping and get sucked into the jolly shopping melee.

Lots of people work very hard to create this phenomenon, of course, but for me it was a positive thing, indicating that I really have Overcome my Agoraphobia to a significant extent. I wasn’t even very bad about the wintry roads.

Not enough to make it up to the Thousand Villages market at the top of Mt. Sequoyah that afternoon, though. I had intended to take the boys up to finish their Christmas shopping, but that will have to wait for another day.