Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Back: Advent + Christmas

This Advent and Christmas has been quite the switch-up for our family as we looked to Embrace Advent more fully. This led to new Family Traditions being started including a late start for our Christmas tree, holding off on Christmassy music + movies, and celebrating in new ways. Overall, I think we did pretty well sticking to our resolves and learning to focus on each season as it came. It was definitely still a learning period, not only for me, but for each member of our family. Next year, I hope to put into practice a few more traditions and attempt to remember St. Lucy's Day in advance so as to be more prepared. Totally missed the ball on that one!

As we near the end of the 12 days of Christmas, also known as Christmastide, here are a few traditions we managed to successfully add into our family's celebration of Advent and Christmas as well as a few changes I think need to be made for next year.

Our Advent Wreath made it out on time, was lit nearly every night, and was mostly accompanied by readings from Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton. I'm also interested in trying out either Advent and Christmas Wisdom From Pope John Paul II or Advent and Christmas Wisdom From G. K. Chesterton. Next Advent we shall aim to light the candles every day. David and I also attempted daily readings from God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, which was in actuality a part of our days way less than hoped for.
Next year, I'm thinking of getting a more family oriented daily Advent reflections for our nightly lighting of the wreath, and keeping the deeper books for just David + I. O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath was recommended by a friend of mine, so I am thinking of purchasing it now and putting it away with our decorations to be ready for next year.

Our Christmas tree was kind of a crazy mess. Lovely, but very unorganized in how we went about each step. We ended up getting it the Friday after Thanksgiving at a local farm, where we were able to cut it down ourselves. The lights we put on the first Sunday of Advent, and then we held off the rest of the decorations until Gaudete (the third) Sunday. I'd hoped to decorate during the 2nd week of Advent with strands of popcorn and cranberries, but due to travel and sickness, that fell by the wayside. My cousin shared a Blessing of the Christmas Tree, which we did do, but instead of doing it alongside the ornaments, which is what happened this year, next year I hope to do it before the lights, where it's supposed to be said.
Next year, I think we'll probably keep the spacing we tried out there. I liked the anticipation with spacing out the decorations. So, moving the Blessing up where it goes, and remembering the popcorn + cranberries, and we're set!

The Crèches we did set out on time, and I even remembered to add Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. I did forego the wrapping of the figures since I completely forgot until too late. Maybe next year. I am hoping to start collecting a few more Nativity scenes to decorate our abode.

We did remember to celebrate the Feast Day of St. Nicholas on December 6th, breaking up the solemnity of the Advent season a bit. The only thing we didn't manage to fit in were the spice cookies mentioned in the linked post. St. Lucy's Day (December 13th) we completely forgot so that can be something we look forward to adding next year.

We were successful in introducing Santa Claus as a fictional character as well as limiting the amount of presents that filled up the bottom of our tree. We filled our Stockings with simple goodies, and then limited wrapped gifts to a book apiece to the boys, and then shared accessories for the wooden play kitchen they received from their grandparents.

Movies, music, and books all were enjoyed in their time. We held off on the first two, and are still catching up on our favorite holiday movies! They're still just as enjoyable and definitely helped me to remember to focus on preparing rather than jumping all in during the season of Advent. Music was hard when out of the house, but we managed to keep any Christmas music out of the house until Christmas Eve. Books we did bring in during Advent, and I actually liked that. At the beginning of Advent, I debated leaving them until the season of Christmas, but I think the boys enjoyed reading them often during Advent as we learned all the ins and outs of the Christmas story. We even discovered a few new nativity focussed books for our shelves.

All in all, I think we were mostly successful at implementing a lot of new traditions all at once. I'm excited to see what this whole next year holds as we continue in the Christian year and celebrate feasts, holy days, and seasons in their turn.

I'd love to hear about your Advent and Christmas celebrations and how they turned out. How did your family match up to what you were hoping?

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This post Looking Back: Advent + Christmas first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 4 January 2013

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