Amy McCurry is wife to Mike McCurry and is his guest columnist this week. She grew up in Hinsdale and is a busy mother with four children.

From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, December 22, 2016

“When you step over the threshold of Christmas there’s mystery for you to explore. A story. A message. Rich beauty. The wonder of childlike joy….Turn the handle and open the door.” –Greg Asimakoupoulos

These are the words my children long to cuddle up and listen to every year, and mark the beginning of a cherished book in our home – words that invite back the magical four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas morning.

Long ago, when I was a new mom, I attended a group at our church, called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Our first child wasn’t even born when I found myself eager to join this organization. They all desired one thing; fellowship along the journey of motherhood. It was there that I learned so many wonderful tips, where I ate my only warm meal for the week, made many of my best friends, and found a safe haven.

One of the best gifts I received in the first months of being part of MOPS was when Jack and Kathy Stockman spoke at our December meeting. They brought along with them a beautiful story to share of their own family Christmas tradition. They had perfectly captured their homemade life-size “Doors of Advent” into a treasure simply named, “The Advent Book”. It was a thick and sturdy book, where for each page and day that passed, a new experience of the Advent story was revealed, beautifully and artfully. Similarly to the chocolates that are hidden behind the traditional Advent calendar doors, hungry young readers are encouraged to come back each night for a new flavor, and enjoy and read what is behind all 25 uniquely designed doors of the Christmas story.

I’m well known in my family for my love of reading and traditions, so I didn’t hesitate to purchase their book for my own new family – not knowing how it would transform this season for us for many years to come.

With each passing year and more children to crawl onto a lap, Mike and I cherished reading this book aloud each night. And in the course of time (and as our children were each developing their reading skills), we have watched them try to first sound out a few syllables to the point  where they eventually memorize “their page” with impressive expression. Being a former teacher, it’s very satisfying to listen and observe their annual improvements in fluency and comprehension.

It’s not always happy or easy when it comes to the nightly reading. There’s a “scramble” to sit next to mom, dad or their favorite sibling of the day, and feelings get hurt – and the undeniable disappointment, too, like when the favorite “Lion Door” goes to another sibling. They fight and complain when someone read too fast or too slowly, or if someone else got to blow out the candles.

I love that while this parenting journey sometimes feels like a fight in the moment, it somehow evolves into years of warm memories that permanently touch the soul.

Our children, like so many others, look forward to Santa, the sweets and gifts to exchange, but they primarily look forward to the experience of Christmas beginning December 1. The sacred Advent book and the four candles that represent faith, joy, love and hope have been a cornerstone of our season, and are the first Christmas items to resurface at the end of November.

And I would would like to think many of my friends from MOPS – and maybe yours, too – the kids can’t wait to cuddle up on the couch, and unveil the doors of Christmas, as they say together, “And His name shall be called Immanuel -which means, God with us.”

May you all have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year, full of memory-making moments.

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Open the Door