I was just reading a Facebook post from a family blog I follow. The author, the mother, said the Advent activity for tonight was to camp under the Christmas tree with the children. That brought memories to my mind.
As a kid, and even young adult, I loved lying on the floor on my back under the Christmas tree, my head stuck in as far as it would go, looking through the branches, seeing the lights make shadows on the ceiling. I'd squint my eyes and see the colored lights dance and lengthen. It really was a meditative time. Sort of a "stop and smell the roses" moment, but the fragrance was of balsam pine.
I still do this occasionally, but now our tree is up on an old trunk, so it's more difficult to lie under it. (I am sitting beside it currently though.) I especially concentrate on the different nativity or Holy Family ornaments. It was, and is, a time to think and pray, meditate, to focus on the important part of all the decorations, the "reason for the season," the birth of Jesus Christ-- Emmanuel, God with us.
Back when, I often had Christmas music playing on the hifi or stereo record player as I starred at the ornaments and sparkles on the tree. Now I more often than not just have silence, which keeps my mind more focused.
I'm re-reading an Advent devotional book by Jan L. Richardson called "Through the Advent Door." She writes what I have often thought about as well: "Like many folks, it's right around Christmas Eve that I finally feel ready for Advent. Sometimes it seems that only when I'm done with the doing of Christmas...that I am ready to attend to the internal preparations, to open my soul to the God who is ever waiting to be born there."