And now,with Advent starting yesterday, we are already looking to Christmas. I went to a brunch at Church last weekend to get some ideas for celebrating this season. My main focus this year is to keep things simple, peaceful, and meaningful for the family. I want our home and hearts ready to welcome the Christ child. So this year, to keep me grounded when I want to make 50 things before Christmas, I am going to slow down and make time for prayer every day. We didn't get a chance to make a Jesse tree this year, but I found this list of daily Bible passages to follow the story of salvation history up to the birth of Jesus. Tomorrow, for example, when we read the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, the kids can draw an apple and serpent, or Adam and Eve. Next year we'll do the ornament exchange for the Jesse tree; this year we'll keep it simple.
Another Advent tradition is filling a jar with 24 separate, realistic goals for each day. We wrote on small strips of paper things like, "Share our toys," and "Listen first time." Each day we draw one goal out of the jar and encourage each other to do it that day. By evening, if we have met the goal, we'll place the strip of paper in a manger, like straw, making a warm soft bed for Jesus. Today was "Use kind words" and the kids had to remind me at one point that we don't want a bare manger come Christmas. Who's idea was this anyway? This might be a little more difficult than I anticipated.
Another exciting idea for Advent is celebrating the feast days during the season. Here's a few ways you might try:
St. Nicholas (Dec. 6) - Traditionally, the kids put their shoes out before bed on Dec. 5th, and they are filled with goodies when they get up the next morning. One mom shared that she finds an Advent book each year to give, besides the chocolate gold coins.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12) can be celebrated with some roses (felt or real) on a table runner, reminding us of the flowers falling from the tunic of St. Juan Diego, and some Mexican food for dinner.
On St. Lucy's day, (Dec. 13) we plan on dressing Lucy in a homemade, simple white dress made from eyelet sewn on daddy's white shirt collar, and a red ribbon around her waist. She'll treat us with hot chocolate and a sweet treat for breakfast. So many things to celebrate this season! There were lots of other wonderful traditions shared at the brunch, but these seem like a good start.
I am scaling back on all the ideas I had for gift-making so we can slow it down and be at peace. Like one lady at brunch said, if your traditions are going to make you shout at the kids, don't do them. Keep it simple. Nevertheless, you can't expect me not to make anything. So, check back here for some gift ideas, including several easy do-it-yourself presents.