This year, we decided that the older children could help be the "keepers of the magic" and so they participated in setting the room. To protect the floor, we first laid down large canvas painters' drop cloths, and covered them with white sheets. We then found the center and marked it with a stool. We built the spiral from the outside with freshly cut evergreens. After laying a basic spiral path, we added more greens. Then we placed beautiful, large shells, crystals and stones along the path near the greenery. Finally, cut-out golden stars (made of thick cardstock; check your local craft store) were strategically placed along the spiral where the children would later set their candles.
After cleaning up the left over greens, we placed chairs around the perimeter along with folded yoga blankets for the children to sit upon the floor. The room was completely dark except for the one large candle at the center of the circle on the low stool. All entered the room quietly while my son played a gentle advent song on the pentatonic harp. (He's a big 5th grader now!) After all were seated, we sang a simple song that our family learned from Ananda years ago: "Give me a Light to light my way; Truth is a Light so wise men say." This helped to further set the hushed mood. Then I read a simple Advent story.
Our Angel, the oldest girl in our group -- now almost 13! -- was the first to walk the spiral. As each child walked, we sang another simple song: "Johnny is walking to get his little light. All the stars are watching him by day and by night. (lights candle) Now he has his little light and his face is shining bright. Carefully he's walking home to keep it by his side." This year we were quite spontaneous and rather than letting all the children walk first, some of the adults walked in between the times of the children. Rather than singing, my son resumed playing the harp for the adults. This created a nice balance between voice and instrument to accompany the walking.
Afterwards, we sang the "Give me a Light" song for a few more rounds before everyone quietly left the beautifully lit up room. After all had exited, our Angel brought the apple-candles out so that everyone could take one home.
One of our moms graciously prepared the apple candle-holders. This is a simple project. All you need are some beautiful red apples and short candles. The white 4" emergency candles work well. Just cut into the core/stem section of the apple enough to insert the base of the candle. Each child holds his apple/candle and walks the spiral to the center Light. After lighting his candle, he walks back out of the spiral, bringing his light and finding his star on which he places his apple/candle. Slowly the entire room lights up!
We have also done this event outdoors and I have found that it works beautifully out-of-doors as well. In some ways it is easier to do this outdoors because there you have an advent garden growing (in a spiral shape, perhaps some herbs). You can always add more greens. The nice thing is you do not have to worry about cleaning up everything right afterwards. You can simply leave the greens in place and everyone can quietly leave the beautiful scene. Of course, someone needs to stay behind to release the candles!
Blessings on this last week of Advent! You can also keep a simple Advent Wreath in your home the four weeks before Christmas. The first week, light just one candle; the second week, two and so on. Here is a little verse that you can say to accompany the lighting of the candles. Starting with the first week, display your precious crystals, shells; the second week, small plants or flowers; the third week, carved animal shapes, etc.
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants;
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts;
Swimming, flying, leaping, running . . . the greatest to the least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of Man;
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.
Blessings on your Advent season. Enjoy this special time!