This year, Nativity was quite a hectic time for me. For the first year, I was the hostess for the family Christmas Eve smörgåsbord. It was a small gathering, but even so, a great deal of preparation was required. The house had to be cleaned and decorated, and I was responsible for the meatballs. In our family, the meatballs are quite important; my grandmother would often make the meatballs weeks in advance, and freeze them until just before Christmas Eve. This year was the first year that I have been allowed to make the meatballs, which was quite an honor.
Learning from my grandmother, I made the meatballs a couple of weeks in advance, and I made a test batch for my grandmother to taste before committing the rest of the mix to little balls. I was quite pleased when I received her approval after the first try.
When the day came, the gathering went well, I thought. It was rather interesting really. While I prepared the house and the meatballs, most of the food came from other people. My grandmother made the glögg (a hot, sweet, spiced alcoholic beverage). My aunt brought the potato sausage and the prinskorv (which, since childhood, I always called “little hot dogs”). My spouse went grocery shopping and bought lots of vegetables, a small smoked ham, pie, and various cookies and sweets. My spouse’s coworker came and brought the rotmos (a Swedish version of mashed rutabaga). I prepared the house and the meatballs, and the rest of the bounty just arrived! That seemed quite symbolic of Nativity to me.
All of this made me think of the meaning and importance of Nativity. I no longer consider myself a Christian, but Christmas/Nativity has a much deeper and older meaning than the Christian narrative. The Mother God Chapel recently published two important articles that explain the older and deeper meaning of Nativity which can be found here and here. In summary, the material world falls further away from the Light and would fall into complete Darkness, but the Light intervenes, and Light returns and is renewed. This theme is found in the Christian narrative, but the theme is Universal and thus larger and deeper than the narrative of any human religion.
In thinking about the meaning of Nativity, I have also been reflecting on the Advent preparations. These preparations involve rearranging one’s schedule, one’s finances, and one’s home to make room for Nativity to happen. One buys and/or makes gifts for friends and family. The preparations take time, making Advent a rather busy season, and often one must rearrange one’s daily activities to accommodate the extra chores and tasks. If one puts up a Nativity Tree, furniture must be moved. Regular household decorations must be put aside to make room for the Nativity decorations. It seems to me that these preparations are all symbolic of making space for Nativity to happen.
Yet, when we make space for Nativity to happen, a bounty often arrives, I think…or at least it did for me this year.