Ok. I can now officially start gearing up for Christmas. Thanksgiving is over, the last traces of pumpkin pie and cranberry Jell-o have disappeared and Christmas trees are appearing in department stores and local windows. In the Orthodox Church, the Advent fast has begun, and we'll eat no meat, dairy or poultry until Christmas day. Also, Wednesday evening Paraklesis services have begun. These candlelit services are solemn but also bursting with anticipation as we chant hymns that explain church traditions surrounding Christmas, and sing as if we are rejoicing with the angles and shepherds, awaiting the birth of Christ:
“Make ready, O Bethlehem;
for Eden hath been opened for all.
Prepare, O Ephratha;
for the Tree of life hath blossomed forth
in the cave from the Virgin;
for her womb did appear
as a super-sensual paradise,
in which is planted the Divine Plant,
whereof eating we shall live and not die as did Adam.
Verily, Christ shall be born,
raising the likeness that fell of old.”