We have had a slow start to our Advent this year. There has yet to be much Christmas music, we still haven’t out up our tree and our only decorations to date are the Nativity Set and our Advent wreath. It feels strange and it feels right. I know when we start decking the halls my whole heart will be in it and until then I am contenting myself to quiet my heart and draw nearer to the King.
Advent is fast approaching and though I seem to still have mommy brain I am determined not to miss out on preparing our hearts for Christ this Christmas.
I am usually that woman who is walking around with her Christmas latte cup the day they come out and blaring the Christmas music about mid- November but no more. I am choosing to believe and trust that if I hold off a little while into Advent (no promises that I’ll make it to Christmas day) that I will experience the full joy that God intended for us to enjoy for the 12 days of Christmas instead of being “over it” by Boxing Day. I am cheating a little though by listening to the “Classical Christmas” playlist on my Songza app through our Apple TV. We are also watching and listening to lots of The Nutcracker Ballet. Our girls are really loving it and spending a good portion of their days in ballerina costumes dancing on their “stage” a.k.a the living room rug!
In years past our Christmas tree was put up on December 1st when we lived in apartments and had to use an artificial tree. Now that we have a fresh tree and keep it up until at least January 6th we are trying to put it up later in the month…hard for me because the joy I get from sitting in front of a lit tree with a hot drink in my hand never gets old.
We will start Advent by putting out our increasingly ridiculous collection of nativity sets. So. Many. Nativity. Sets. I don’t believe you can ever have too many! We like to hide the baby Jesus (hopefully in a place I remember in time for Christmas morning!!)
We have our Advent wreath all ready to go which is a surprise to me because I usually cannot find the right sized candles to fit my wreath in time but we last weekend we went to a parish Advent wreath making activity and they gave us the wreath with candles. Glory Be! Each night of Advent after supper we will gather in the living room to pray as we always do but we will begin by lighting our wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and reading a reflection for the day. If we have time for nothing else, this I want to make sure we do!
As for feast days we like to celebrate all of them. I’m not a craft making mom so we usually stick to treats and coloring pages but we do like to celebrate all of the Advent feast days. There is the feast of St. Nicholas, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucy. Advent is such a special season in the life of our family and I find that the more little ways we celebrate together and in Christ centered ways the better for our hearts and keeping our focus. We will do all of the usual fun activities of putting up the tree, watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, baking, baking, gift making ,etc but I prefer to do these at our pace instead of feeling the pressure to get it all done the first week in. That is the beauty and the point of Advent. It is a time of preparation…it’s not a deadline. We can pick away at our lists and know that when Christ comes we will have done our best with the time and the responsibilities He has given us as mothers.
Here are some things we like to do..
St. Nicholas - we always put our shoes out the night before and the children wake to find chocolate coins and clementines in their shoes. There is usually a new book for them as well and this year it will be The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan (thanks Nana!) We will also have a sweet afternoon treat, likely to be cookies and milk and I’ve printed some coloring pages for the girls.
Immaculate Conception – I’ve got the book “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” by Tomie de Paola out from the library and we will read that together and have an afternoon tea party in honor of Mary. Again, treats and coloring pages.
Our Lady of Guadalupe - This happens to be one of my favorite Marian feast days! I am hoping that we will have Mexican food for dinner that night. Mexican hot chocolates and “The Lady of Guadalupe” by Tomie de Paola from the library for our afternoon treat.
St. Lucy - We have a Lucy in our house so this is always a special day in our family. On Name days in our family people usually receive a holy card, a small gift and get to choose dessert. This year we will have a new book (thanks, Nana!) and the day will be the same but the gift will be something extra special because I have decided to take Lucy see The Nutcracker Ballet playing in our city. On her name day! I’m hoping to keep it a surprise until that day. I don’t often get to spend one on one time with the kids so this will be special. I’ve never seen a ballet before and I am giddy at the thought of us two gals getting to experience it for the first time together.
Over the years we have accumulated quite a nice collection of Christmas books and I supplement that pile with library books and this year instead of just bringing them all out on the first Sunday of Advent, I am going to wrap them all and the kids will get to open one each day leading up to Christmas. This is more for the purpose of slowly adding, slowly building and preparing as we get closer to the big day rather than them being tired of all the Christmas stories by the time it actually comes. One tradition we have as per Elizabeth Foss’ suggestion I believe is that we read “The Night Before Christmas” every single day at least once. We were given this beautiful pop up copy of the book by my Aunt when Lucy was a baby and it has become a loved tradition of reading it together and gently opening each page and watching it unfold.
We don’t have a set Advent calendar that we use yearly. Perhaps at some point I will make a more permanent one but for now it seems to change from year to year. I took apart my huge chalkboard frame today in hopes to pull this off in the next few days. Instead of having different activities each day we will be reading from our Jesus Storybook Bible following this plan.
We will also celebrate our seven year wedding anniversary in December which is exciting and we are hoping for a bit of time together! So many good things to enjoy…it really is the most wonderful time of the year! Cheesy? Cliche? Perhaps but it is true!! The joy and wonder in the little faces I am blessed to love never loses its glow.
To make sure I am preparing my own heart amid the full days of December, I am joining the Good Morning Girls Advent challenge to keep up with my morning prayer and scripture study. It is free!
I’m joining this up with Pam at Everyday Snapshots for a link up of Advent-y goodness..
I love talking Advent, so talk to me friends! What things are you most looking forward to? What traditions do you hold dear?
Here we are. November. While some will celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we have already done that and what remains, for me, is the death of so many good things. Perhaps that is why I shudder every time this month approaches. My favorite season of the year is nearly over, the leaves have all fallen, the beauty of the season is fading, the light is fading and what is left is darkness.
I worry that I don’t have the courage to face that darkness…the darkness of the winter months that lie ahead and the darkness inside of me. God calls me to courage for these days, for strength to let my light burn brightly in the dark places and know he is there holding my hand. Now is the time to gather the ones I love and hold them tighter. Now is the time to always have the kettle on, to linger over meals, to sit snuggled together with our books and favorite movies, to light candles, to write letters, to give thanks for all that has been given and all that we hope to be.
This month will mark five years since my fathers death. I often go into complete hermit mode, shutting out all friends and good fun. I know that my father would not want this and so this year I have purposely booked up our calendar with things to look forward to. Things that will make me leave the house and stop navel gazing. No matter the sadness, God is still good and there is joy to be had. I am focusing on giving thanks daily for the little gifts each day brings by either writing them down or snapping a quick photo on my phone. This life is busy, this life is full, this life is the one He gave me. I am overwhelmed by the abundance of all of it.
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”