Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advent is my favorite season of the year!

If you ask the department stores, it's been Christmas for the past month already! I seriously went to find a last minute pair of angel wings at the store, but couldn't find them b/c they'd shoved all the Halloween stuff aside to make room for CHRISTMAS! Most would agree that's a bit early... But the majority of people I know, still celebrate Christmas before it's time!

Did you know that Christmas season doesn't end on Christmas Day, it STARTS on Christmas Day!

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation!
Isaiah 9:2 "The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great Light."
This little verse is our theme, so to speak, for Advent. We, like the people of the Old Testament, and like Mary and Joseph, are in darkness, waiting for, praying for, and longing for the birth of our savior and king! This season is a time to prepare our hearts and homes for the coming of God!

Are you ready??

No? Me neither ;) That's why I LOVE Advent! It's the perfect opportunity to slow down

...Wait?!? What?? Slow down!?! Don't you know it's almost Christmas!?! I still have a shopping list a mile long! Cookies to bake, ornaments to buy, relatives to visit, cards to write, address and mail out, gifts to make, parties to attend...... {THUD... this is the point where I fall over on the floor from exhaustion}

The crazy business that we always associate with this time of year, is NOT what God intends for us. This insane shopping, decorating, spending frenzy is a product of the world. Don't let that drag you down and wear you out this year! If you're worn out it's too hard to allow the simple beautiful truth of God becoming man, to really sink in and take root in our hearts...

Think about that for one moment...
God is so crazy about you, that he came down to Earth. Not only that, he came humbly... Not like a mighty warrior on bolt of lightning an peals of thunder, in the grand and magnificent splendor that is befitting of our Diving King. But instead His birth is a story of humility and simplicity, to be an example to us. To give us something very attainable. He didn't come flashing His awesome power to impress us or subdue us. He came in the most humble way possible! A very far cry from the scene that will take place on Friday, the day that most of the world sees as the start of the Christmas season...

So how do you prepare for the simple, humble coming of the King? Can you make this a season of patient expectation? Anyone who's ever waited for the birth of their own baby knows this feeling! {I know this feeling all to well! My babies are usually at least a week past their due dates!}

That feeling of growing anticipation is what should fill this season ;)

In a nutshell here's what we do! If you'd like more details about any of our traditions, just ask! I love to talk about them! But I don't want to overwhelm you with details. The best place to start is with simplicity. Err on the side of doing to little and add more as the years go on. THere are so many wonderful tradtions you could choose to do with your family, but none of it will do any good if you're overwhelmed and burnt out by Dec 1st! I can't overemphasize this START SMALL. There, was that enough emphasis for you? Probably not... You're probably like me ;) There's so much good stuff and you want it all for your family! But the years I've tried to do it all, I ended up overwhelmed and nothing comes together like I want. But years when I relax and let things fall into place without getting stressed, things, by the simple grace of God, fall into place!
Anywho... here's my MO for Advent...

~In our home, we put off all Christmas decorating, music, dress ect until Christmas Eve. I might string some purple ribbon (the color of the Liturgical Season) if I happen to fond something pretty on sale...
~We begin Advent by lighting our Advent Wreath. (Detailed post to follow)
~We also put up our little Jesse Tree. (Ditto..more info later)
~On Dec 6th we celebrate St Nicolas Day! After all, he's the real Santa. No fairy tale or childhood hoax here! In our house we know that St Nicolas is alive! After all, aren't we more alive than ever when we are born into Heaven? St Nicolas visits our home the eve of his feast day and fills their shoes with a few small gifts, gold coins {those gold colored dollar coins are perfect!}. Our children leave him milk and cookies and write him a letter. They let him know how they are preparing and ask him to pray (since he lives up there in Heaven with Jesus, he can just take a quick stroll to the throne room and let the Lord know their little petitions!) for them, that they might be well behaved enough to get the things they want on Christmas ;) And St Nick always writes them back! He tells them that they remind him of the Christ Child. And he also reminds each child specifically to work on their faults, be extra kind, and to pray and make small sacrifices in order to make their hearts more like Jesus heart. St. Nick promises to come back on Christmas to help the celebrate Jesus' birthday :)
We also go get our tree and put it up on St Nicolas Day, but we don't put anything on it yet!

~Dec 13th is St. Lucy Day! The story of St Lucy is rather gruesome... Her virtue is inspiring! But her life and death were very sad. So we do sort of gloss over the bloody details (gouging out eyeballs...), but we do enjoy her feast day by celebrating the Light of Christ which was all St. Lucy needed to see. Our oldest daughter and I wake up early to make cinnamon rolls. We wake the rest of the family by ringing bells and singing, calling them all to the table!
Since this is the festival of lights, we put our lights on the tree and outdoors (if we're feeling particularly ambitious that year)

~Christmas Eve, we go to Church with our family and come home and eat cookies, drink cocoa and decorate our tree. Then the kids go to bed and my husband and I drink a little Christmas wine and wrap gifts :) It's REALLY important to plan out this evening! Make sure naps are taken, early dinner is ready with time to spare, and that you know where all the shoes, tights, headbands, dresses, ties..... all are ahead of time. Nothing ruins the mood more than Monster Mommy scrambling to find odds and ends, and hollering at tired hungry kids to hurry up and get in the van so we can all celebrate the birth of Baby JESUS!!

I've found LOTS of resources that are helpful! Here are a few of my favorites! And please share anything you've found helpful...

Jesse Tree DVD from Holy Heroes - Great for busy Moms (me!)

Karen Edmisten's No Panic (super long!) Advent Post
- this is just about everything you could ever think of for Advent!

Discover the truth about St Nicolas - If you're in West Michigan, this museum is in Holland! We'll go there this year for the first time, but I hear it's well worth the trip!

Christmas to Candlemas - thinking ahead for the Christmas Season

Smart Martha's Advent Planner- She lays it ALL out for you on a simple calendar! Totally perfect! I also reccommend signing up for her newsletter! Packed with good stuff!
Catholic Icing- always has cute and simple art projects for every season!

Waltzing Matilda- beautiful coloring pages for many Saints including many that we celebrate during Advent!


  1. Aww I love it! Makes me want to be a kid again or have kids of my own! GREAT post :)

  2. That was a great post, Shannon! Thanks for sharing.

    One tip that I have is to complete my Christmas shopping before Advent begins. That is the thing that has helped me to be able to focus on the spritual preparation the most, I think - I don't have that running to-do list hampering my thoughts constantly. We are usually pretty successful at it,though I've got a thing or two to attend to yet.