Sunday, December 03, 2006
Advent in our home
I've been spending a fair amount of time over the last several weeks looking at blogs of those I admire and trying to figure out what new traditions I'd really like to bring into the home during Advent. I've started small and every year add a little something else, but honestly, I usually end up feeling like I've missed the whole meaning of what the little something was supposed to do because I get too caught up in the details of the something.
This year, I've been reading Around the Year with the Trapp Family. I have had this book for a couple of years now and I always glean through it wishing I could "be more like Maria."
Something changed for me this time. It started really with All Hallow's Eve. I really desired to share the meaning of that day coupled with All Soul's Day. The more I read, the more I realized that I did not have to implement everything that Maria did with her family, but that I could certainly bring one or two ideas into our home and make it our own.
I decided I would make a liturgical notebook of sorts. I think I may have even read about doing this on my wonderful friend, Cindy's blog. She always has great ideas and since we tend to think alike, I can't remember if I had been milling that idea around in my own mind before I read about it or not... sorry about that tangent.
So with the beginning of the New Liturgical Year, I am going to place the things we love, the things that are traditional for our family into this binder. Eventually, perhaps, it may move to a more beautiful format, but as I said, I can get too caught up in the details and miss the whole idea. So, I am placing these lovely thoughts, traditions, etc, into the binder.
I read a post on Karen's blog today which brought me to this blog and this sweet lady's poem rang true for me. I commented on her blog, so you can read more of my thoughts there, but I decided to go ahead and mention exactly what we do for advent around here.
I was shocked at how much I am getting in. How much my kids are living the Liturgical year. I may not be Maria Trapp, but I am me and what we do here works for our family and is truly an expression of OUR faith.
Here's a list, not for you to compare with your life and make you question if you are doing enough, but more for my own sake to see it all in one place. This list is not in any special order.
1. Revised school schedule - We will continue with Math and Latin studies, as well as independent reading. Bean will also continue with her Chemistry studies as she really can't shelve that for a month. In the time that we would normally do more academic work, we will focus on preparation. Preparation of our hearts and souls, preparation of our home.
Each day after the basic school work is completed, each of us has an assigned task that will be carried out. For instance, tomorrow, Foo will work on getting rid of recycling materials that have yet to be crushed small enough to fit into the bin. The girls will spend time oiling the wooden furniture that drinks up the lemon oil.
During this time of preparation, we will meditate on the thought for the day from our Spiritual Crib.
By the time Christ comes, hopefully our hearts, minds, souls, and home will all be properly prepared to receive Him.
2. Spiritual Crib: This we try to do each morning, sometimes, I'll admit, we forget and have to play catch up the next day or even two days later. But the idea is to meditate upon a thought to help prepare the heart for the birth of Jesus.
I'll post the Spiritual Crib that we do in the comments section of this post.
3. The Advent Wreath: Each Sunday, we read the prayer for the week, light the candle and reflect for a few minutes each day on the readings for that day. This is usually done at dinner time, if possible.
New things we will be trying this year to see if they feel like us...
4. Advent Angels or ChristKindl: Each one of us pulls a name of another family member and secretly, throughout Advent offers up sacrifices, prayers, and performs good deeds for the person that they picked. This just seemed like something we can work on right now in our lives.
5. Saint study: Each person also picks a saint (mom has written some down for each person to draw from). Sometime during the Advent/Christmas season, each person will present their "Saint" to the entire family. This allows us to get to know a bit more about the Saints and possibly gives the children as well as the parents a special friend to call on during our daily living that we may not have thought about or known about before.
6. St Nicholas Study: I have always felt a call to learn more about St. Nicholas and integrate him into our Christmas so that we can move away from the secular Santa that all too often invades our home during this time of year. I have never really pushed Santa onto the kids, but I have never told them not to believe in him. In fact, when the children are older and start to question things, I simply tell them that in our home, we always believe in the spirit of giving and the spirit of St. Nicholas.
This year I plan to read aloud to the children, yes even Bean, about St. Nicholas. Then on Dec 6th, they might even find some golden coins in their shoes with a small little gift.
7. Less is more. Mark and I started scaling back on the huge amounts of gifts that we would give to the children a few years ago. We really felt that we wanted to be more centered on Christ, yet, it was impossible with crazy electronic noise-making, light-strobing, music-blaring, mornings taking over after a long Christmas Eve. Slowly, we have tried to bring the number of gifts to three. Each year we get closer to that number, but usually give in to the commercialism and get a few more than that.
This year, it is my hope that our children will appreciate their three gifts. One will be for their physical sense, one for their intellectual sense, and one for their spiritual sense. I love the challenge of trying to stay within these guidelines. And since my children, well most of them, can barely think of anything to put on their lists, the door is wide open as to what we can come up with for them.
This is another thing we have been doing for years that I had forgotten to write about. The Creche and adding straw to it. For each good deed that a child performs, they can put straw into the creche to make a comfortable place for the Christ child to lay His head. If mom or dad catch you doing something good, more straw can be added. By Christmas Eve, the bed is full of straw and after Mass and dinner at Mickey Miss's home, Lem will bring Baby Jesus out from His hiding place and be placed into His creche. (Technically it is usually way past midnight, so He arrives officially on Christmas day.) In the morning, the children will come downstairs to find the tree lit, gifts waiting for them and best of all, baby Jesus has appeared in the Nativity scene as well!
9. Another new tradition I would love to implement is the Jesus stocking. The idea of adding our thanksgivings and prayers to Jesus daily is very inspiring and seems to really help us to focus on what we are trying to do during this time of preparation. Thank you, Karen for a wonderful idea!
10. Lastly, I'd like to be sure to attend Mass on the Holy Days of Obligation as well as other wonderful feast days. Some years, truthfully, I do feel quite overwhelmed with all that needs to be done and I might not make it to Mass as often as I'd like.
Other activities that we tend to do each year involve baking cookies, wrapping home-made gifts, and sending out a Christmas card or letter. I am not sure that I'll get to do very much in these areas this year, but I will certainly try to do some. These are usually the areas that cause me the greatest stress, so, I've promised myself that they are to be the lowest priority. Christ is first. I'm not sure that He is too concerned with whether or not I've mailed out 150 Christmas cards. I believe He'd rather be assured that I am teaching my children about the true meaning of Christmas, that we are giving to others more than receiving ourselves, and that we are preparing ourselves to receive Him body, mind, and spirit.
I pray each of you has a blessed and peaceful Advent. It is my greatest dream that one day, we will wake up and witness Christmas as it was that very first time.
Posted by K at 10:44 PM