When I think of Advent I think of warmth, coziness, silence, peace, joy, longing, and anticipation. I imagine little hands folded in prayer around an Advent wreath and little voices singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I imagine an empty cradle that is slowly filled with hay from the good deeds of my kids and a wall that is decorated with Jesse Tree images. I imagine silent mornings cozied up on a chair with some coffee, good spiritual reading, and the glow of the Christmas tree.
And now that I’ve written that out…. I can let it go! My life looks like the picture below. It’s loud and chaotic, messy and wild, imperfect in every way. Maybe this is you too? If so, my hope is you will join me in breathing through this season, offering it faithfully to him, and building an interior cradle where our sweet Jesus may find rest. It is precisely our littleness and weakness that draws him near!
I stumbled upon this quote as I was planning my Advent and it brought tears to my eyes. In many ways this season of life has revealed to me all my limitations. Resting with these words has brought my heart so much peace and I hope it does the same for you this season.
No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need, even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.
St. Oscar Romero
Now on to the planning!
A Few Notes To Get Started
First – I’d love to recommend that you have a physical liturgical living book. The internet is great, but it’s overwhelming. By picking a go-to book you limit your choices and avoid taking on to much. I have 3 recommendations:
- Catholic All Year Compendium – I don’t own this one but I think I should! I use Kendra’s website frequently for ideas on liturgical living. Many of my friends own this and really enjoy it.
- Around The Year with the Von Trapp Family – This is a book I love to reference but can’t actually see us adopting their traditions. I recommend it anyway because it’s so beautiful and gives me such a deep longing to live our faith well!
- Catholic Catalogue – This is less of a “what to do” and more of a “why we do what we do.” It’s so helpful for understanding Catholic traditions and also gives a few ideas for making the day special.
Second – start collecting special Christmas books and toys and put them in their own bin or box that you can get out each year. Don’t underestimate how much reading and playing with these special items will prepare your child for Christmas! This right here is enough if it’s all you can handle this year. Oh and we also love to watch the movie The Star 🙂
Our Prayer Plan
The past few years I felt like I was dragging my family through the motions. It wasn’t fun for anyone and we were trying to do too much. This year I asked Ryan to help me pick just a few things that would be enjoyable and doable for this season of our lives. Here’s what we came up with! (Planning to do this right after dinner).
- Turn off all the lights and light our Advent candle
- Sing one verse of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
- Have the kids take turns rolling our Advent Prayer Cube
- Ryan reads the prayer for us
That’s all! I’m hoping this will be the foundation and as the kids get older we can add some more traditions.
Celebrating Feast Days
There are so many amazing feast days to celebrate during Advent. We have chosen two to really celebrate, and the others will just be talked about throughout our day.
- St. Nicholas’s Feast Day – The evening of the 5th we will hang our stockings to prepare for St. Nick’s visit! Then, we’ll read this story about St. Nicholas. The kids will wake up to matching family pajamas, a new Christmas book, and some gold coins! I’m really eyeing this beautiful St. Nicholas cookie mold to make a tradition of baking cookies together on his feast..It is a little pricey though. And the day of we’ll watch St. Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa on Formed.
- Our Lady of Guadalupe – This is Reagan’s favorite Apparition of Mary so we must celebrate! In years to come, I’d love to make it a big fiesta but this year I think it’s best to keep it small. We’ll make a Mexican dish and a special desert (TBD) and the kids will listen to the Holy Heroes episode about St. Juan Diego (this is on the Hallow App if you have it!)
We often set up our Christmas tree in early December but hold off on decorating it until Gaudete Sunday! My dream is to make hot chocolate and put on some beautiful advent hymns while we decorate the tree as a family. Again, that is just a dream… Might take a few years for it to come true haha
And there you have it, our simple plans for this beautiful season.
I hope that whatever you choose to do this Advent you remember the point – all of these plans aim to help deepen our relationship with and our longing for Christ. It is not a task list to be checked off. If at any point something is no longer serving you, just toss it out the window! Focus on joyful, simple things and go from there.
I’d love to hear your favorite Advent traditions or what you’re most looking forward to this season!