I feel a bit underqualified to be posting any sort of “What to do in Advent” sort of post because I am a newbie to this. I would say I grew up celebrating Christmas starting the day after Thanksgiving. My dad’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving so it was never skipped over, but then Christmas just started right after and that’s just the way it was. A few years ago, as Jason and I decided to live out the liturgical year a bit better, we were sort of stunned to hear that we really weren’t supposed to put up the Christmas décor until… gulp… Christmas Eve. What?!? All that effort for a day or two of celebrating? Wait… there are really 12 days of Christmas?
We were beginning our learning and it seemed sort of unfair. Everyone seemed to have the fun in December! The parties! The sales! The shopping! The cookies! Why did we have to wait and try to have fun when no one else was anymore? Well, theologically – its supposed to be that way. It is a season of waiting…. of anticipation… duh. Practically however, for me the answer came when I realized that it wasn’t all about taking away and it was about finding all that we had missed. There are advent songs, traditions, and joy that we didn’t know about because we were busy rushing through Christmas. Now I was on to something… here is what our family has chosen to do this year.
The Jesse Tree
This particular year, this little 4′ tabletop tree will also serve as our Christmas tree. We will put on the Jesse tree ornaments that I bought on Etsy because making them myself would be just the way I could procrastinate and analyze and ruminate my way right out of ever starting the tradition so I ponied up and bought some. A good investment. Many people make them though, and use that as a way to cement the ideas in the minds of their children. You can search Pinterest and get loads of great ideas so if you’re crafty – go for it. My idea is to put up all of our Jesse tree ornaments and then on Christmas Eve, take those down and decorate our Christmas tree. Other years, I plan on trading out for a big tree and doing a big event around buying the tree that day and putting it up and decorating. This year, this little guy is it.
The Advent Wreath
This we do for sure each Sunday, but also each night that we remember or are home to eat dinner together. Some evenings we go out to dinner and forget, some evenings we are going from one thing to the next… it isn’t every night is what I’m sayin’. We aim to do better in this arena, but it is a start.
This one I have loved doing. I went through my own collection of books and then did some research. Luckily, many bloggers are willing to share their favorite Advent books and I have benefitted from their experience. Looking for good lists to peruse? Here. You. Go. I also did like Jessica at Shower of Roses and wrapped them in paper that corresponds to our advent candles. For the win. Sundays = silver, two weeks of purple, one week of pink, and the last week of purple. Next year I aim to also have 12 books of Christmas wrapped in Christmas paper but that was not in ye olde budget this year. Cest la vie. I’m sure we’ve got enough Christmas fun planned. The kids have loved this new tradition so much.
This year, my husband realized there are exactly as many days of advent as there are people in his immediate family. Perfect. He decided we could pray the rosary each night with one person as our special intention. He then passed an email around to ask that everyone who is interested could pray along for that member of the family. Sweet, simple, easy.
This little list has been so life giving for us, and we are only about 4 days in. Of course, choosing these items means we have chosen not to do so many other wonderful ideas that are out there on blogs and Pinterest and so many other places. That’s intentional. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and just wanted simplicity – so here is where we landed. What are your Advent traditions?