And here we find ourselves, as we always will at this time of year, at the beginning of Advent.
We want our home life to reflect the life of the Church, and in response to that I started planning ahead for Advent this year. I came up with a few ideas, then read this article about How to Celebrate Advent like a Catholic, and rejoiced, because it seems like we are on the right track.
I know not everyone’s Advent will look the same way, and a different phases of life different things make sense for different people. But here’s what This Catholic Family is doing to celebrate Advent this year.
Holding Off On Merry Christmas
I definitely don’t plan on being Scrooge, and will respond in kind when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas before December 25th. But if I initiate the good tidings, I plan to say “Happy Advent.” In the Catholic world, it ain’t Christmas until it’s Christmas. And the waiting is a beautiful thing.
I’ll shout Merry Christmas from the rooftops on December 25th though, and straight through till Epiphany.
Good Deeds Manger for Baby Jesus
Advent is a penitential season. We are waiting for Jesus’ birth, and while there is great anticipation of what is to come, he is not here yet. This year our children will place a single piece of straw in the Manger for acts that are sacrificial and placing another’s needs before their own.
Our hope will be that baby Jesus will find a soft and warm bed upon which to lay, when we place him there on Christmas morning. Here’s a link to the one we bought on Amazon.
A few years back, I couldn’t find an Advent Calendar I liked, so constructed this one out of felt.
This was still in my “I’m Never Going To Be Catholic” days, but I liked the idea of a calendar leading up to Christmas. I no longer have time for this sort of Pinteresty goodness, but it turned out pretty cool. Each pocket has a little ornament that gets hung on the felt tree, (though, note that the pockets are empty this year as the ornaments are in a baggie in the closet. We have a very grabby 11 month old who likes to destroy all things beautiful and fancy.) The ornaments are kind of random wintery stuff, but leading up to Christmas itself is an Angel for the 23rd, Baby Jesus for Christmas Eve, and a star for Christmas Day to go on the top of the tree.
The kids each have a child their age from our Parish’s Giving Tree. We went to the store with the sole purpose of making sure these kids have a present on Christmas morning, and they practiced a corporeal act of mercy by delivering it to our Parish on the first Sunday of Advent this year. This was a nice way to start the season off with the thought of the needs of others, and of compassion and love.
We are no longer going to be scurrying around like little consumerist mice this Advent season. I, somehow, some way did nearly all the Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving #ThanksAmazonPrime.
So we’ll be wrapping gifts soon, but I think that’s fitting as this is a time of preparation and anticipation. But I just didn’t want shopping to the be name of the game this December. I know that’s unrealistic for some people, and it took a lot of pre-planning, but it feels good to know it’s done.
We also aren’t going party crazy this year. Not that our calendar was brimming with invites, mind you, but other than the kid’s school Christmas program and a date night for my birthday, things are pretty chill.
We did, however, plan a Christmas party for the small group at our parish. But we planned it for the 12th day of Christmas – on January 5th- because one of the many great things about being Catholic, is the holidays aren’t over until Epiphany, and we thought that would be a fun tie in to the liturgical calendar, and a good excuse to celebrate with our friends.
Blessing of The Christmas Tree
You know you’re really Catholic when you start blessing stuff around the house.
And our Christmas tree is no exception. We found this lovely Blessing of the Christmas Tree on the USCCB website.
It’s beautiful and simple, and puts a focus on Christ in our lives and in our home.
This is one of the things I’m most excited about. I wanted an Advent wreath last year, but what with being a bajillion months pregnant at the time it didn’t happen.
We will share a slightly elevated Christmas dinner together as a family. (This means we will bust out placemats and cloth napkins. Because that’s how we roll when fancy time comes in the Savaryn household.) We will light the appropriate candles and will do an Advent reading while we share the meal.
I’ve never done this before, and while I’m realistic about what dinnertime looks like for our family, I also have high hopes that some lovely moments will arise here and there throughout the season. And if not, well, we’ll call it our learning year.
Jesus gets a birthday cake this year on Christmas Day. Because cake is delicious and it’s also something my children identify with birthday celebrations in our own culture and time. Awesomely, Mary Charlotte gets a birthday cake on the day after Christmas, because that’s when she decided to make her first appearance.
I just feel like everyone wins with this one.
Here We Go
So This Catholic Family is kicking off Advent in Catholic style. It’s so great to have these solid and beautiful traditions to keep our hearts and minds on the reason for the season.
And though these pictures look lovely and peaceful, rest assured we nary make it a single day without one of the children having some sort of a meltdown. But the tools are here for us just the same, and help retrain our eyes and souls on what really matters this holiday season.
Come Lord Jesus.
What Are Some Of Your Family Advent Traditions?