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Veni, Veni Emmanuel

At Christmastime, I’ve always been a lousy dad.  Late getting out the creche.  Grumpy about wrapping gifts.  Appalling in the matter of trees.  (About ten years ago, I finally remembered, on the way home from the office with just a week left before Christmas itself, that we still needed a tree.  I pulled over at a Christmas tree stand being run by the local Kiwanis, chose a tree in the dark, overpaid for it, then drove off.  In the light of the following morning, it was clear that the tree had looked green only because the dry, brown needles had been spray-painted.  Within three days, nearly all the needles had fallen off, leaving us with a tree so distasteful to the eye that my wife went off and bought a new one.  She has insisted on buying our tree every year since.)

This year, I’ve resolved, will be better.  I’ve already bought an advent wreath for our table.  (Well, my wife bought it.  But I was the one who suggested it.)  Now, for the Ricochetoise, two questions:

Where can I buy an advent calendar?  One of those old-fashionedy ones, with a new window to open each day?  Religious themes, please, instead of the “Jolly Old St. Nick” variety.

Where can I find a book of–oh, I don’t know, advent devotions?  Or practices?  Maybe a little book with a reading for each day of Advent?  Something simple enough for our littlest one–we still have an eight-year old–to understand and enjoy?

Yes, I know.  Advent started this past Sunday, so I’m already late.

But I’m trying. Really I am.