Gang, please welcome the talented (and generous, you’ll see why!) Deme from House for Five to the blog today. She’s got some beautiful Advent and Christmas traditions developing in her family, and she has been gracious enough to share them with us today. Enjoy!
Advent isn’t a season I’ve given much thought to over the years. Blame it on my non-liturgical background (who knew the 12 days of Christmas are after Christmas?!)…or maybe a consumerist society…or just my own indifference. Either way, it wasn’t until two years ago that Advent took on a totally different meaning for our family.
We found ourselves in the middle of a very unexpected, very speedy move across the country (from NM to OH), and on the day before Thanksgiving were greeting a moving truck from our new driveway.
That year instead of unpacking the Christmas bins, we were digging through boxes for clean towels and silverware. We slowly pulled out a few favorite decorations and didn’t get a tree until Dec 20th.
Holiday expectations were at an all-time low. And it was glorious.
No one expected much of us, but more importantly, I didn’t either. My ridiculous to-do list was gone and we approached Christmas more slowly and intentionally than ever before.
Celebrating Advent is something that’s still developing in our home. And I think it always will. The things that will reach and grow and stretch our hearts during Advent will change with each season. Here’s how that’s looking around our home these days…
Prep the house. Clean, purge, and primp. Oh gosh, wait. Don’t read that as I clean and purge and primp my house all Advent long. I don’t. I can’t. But I remember once thinking I should have all the “regular” tasks done (even though I never did) so we could have time for baking and lights and Christmas-y things. But Advent is a great time to focus on the house. Not only can it help make room for impending gifts, but it can reinforce the heart work that’s happening during this time. We at least clean out closets for donations and the kids’ rooms get a little holiday love.
Angel/Giving Tree. The giving tree is one of the first things you see when you enter our parish, and that first Sunday of Advent it’s like the opening pitch to the season. Our kids make a beeline for it and I love seeing them become more involved in the process of choosing a family and buying/wrapping gifts as they get older.
Advent wreath. Our kids love having “fancy” dinners throughout December…which speaks to the lack of formality around here, but candlelight is always magical and reminds us that something special is happening. And it sure does glam up those breakfast for dinner nights.
Last year I pulled together a wreath with stuff from my craft bin. It’s a bit non-traditional, but I could not find pink and purple candles at the craft store (get thee to a catholic bookstore if you’re in need). I went with the white ones I had on hand (read: enormous), so we’ll be rollin’ with this semi-liturgical version for a few years.
St Nicholas Day. On Dec 5th the kids will set out their shoes or slippers and St Nick will pay us a visit. He usually leaves chocolate gold coins and new pj’s….but he ordered them during a Cyber Monday sale this year and isn’t sure they’ll arrive in time. I told him not to sweat it, but he’s still antsy.
Nativity. Ok, I know we should probably set this up and wait to put baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas morning, but my kids have this sixth “baby Jesus” sense and they. always. find. him. Somehow he always appears in his manger early. This Little People set is their absolute favorite, but sometimes Noah turns up on the scene too #liturgicalfail #sorryJesus
Advent Activity Calendar. My favorite! These can be super simple or way elaborate. Our kids could care less – they just love the surprise of discovering the day’s special activity, and I love using the activities to shape our Advent experience. If I feel like we’re getting too caught up in the cocoa and growing Christmas lists, then I can work in more service activities or something to help redirect our focus back to the manger.
We’ve just started to deck our halls around here and are aiming for simplicity. I have a couple more prints that might help you deck yours and help us keep the heart of this season. They’re all ready to print on a 8.5×11, but can be trimmed to fit a 8×10 frame. Or you can just washi tape yours to the wall…