Or, "What Does Miss Piggy Have to Do with Advent?"
Unexpectedly, Miss Piggy became a part of our Advent traditions about thirteen years ago.
When Anne-with-an-e was very little, my mother gave us an Advent calendar that included twenty-four mini books to be read each day of the Advent season. It was a secular calendar that had Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog bringing the O. Henry story, The Gift of the Magi, to humorous life. My daughter delighted in the story and looked forward each year to the daily books, which we read, then hung by their decorative little ribbons on the tree.
One year, before Atticus came into the Catholic Church, I worried that I shouldn't include anything secular in our Advent traditions. I was considering leaving the Muppets in their box, as I was trying to impress upon the kids what the season was really all about. I was trying hard -- without my husband's help, and that made it seem a heavier burden -- to be sure that my children were focused on Jesus. Though well-intentioned, I think I was wrong.
That year, at the beginning of Advent, Anne immediately requested the Muppet Calendar. My heart was softened. I saw, finally and clearly, that this was a beautiful way to include my mother (who is not a Christian) in our Advent preparations. She lives far away and we see little enough of her as it is ... wasn't this a lovely way to make her a part of our focus on Jesus?
I let go of any worries about the little secular traditions that we did, and still do, include in Advent. The secularities we cling to, that are part of our shared family history, connect us to those in our family who are not connected to Jesus.
And, who am I to say that God can't work through a Muppet?