It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Seriously, there’s just something about this time that’s…magical.
Even though you tend to see the worst of people (driving, shopping, searching for deals, parking at the mall…), my faith in humanity is always restored a bit during this time. We come together as a parish to support several parishioner families that are in need of food and gifts. There’s the Salvation Army and its seasonal ringing for loose change. Also the Salvation Army, Angel Trees line the shopping malls. Toys for Tots are in stores, on the news, and in our schools. Food pantry donations overflow.
This is the precarious part of this most wonderful time of the year.
Everyone is having a party. We see an uptick in family reunions. There’s a potluck for this organization, a chili cook-off for that one, a white elephant gift exchange. You get invitations to cookie baking parties and gift-wrapping marathon movie nights. There’s a million local events ranging from free to really expensive to make your holiday memorable and remarkable.
The thing is, the holiday season in itself-that wonderful time of year-is already remarkable. In Advent, we’re preparing for the coming of the Savior. In Christmas, we’re celebrating his birth. This time is the most wonderful time simply because of what it’s about.
So how do we focus on that and fight against the stream of commercialization and secularization?
This week is moving week for me, so to say that our holidays are starting with a BANG! would be an understatement. It’s got lots of potential to be frenetic and crazed. But I know that going in, so (in true Kristi fashion) I have a plan.
Week One: November 26-December 2 This week I am focusing on moving into our new family home (our new domestic church) and unpacking. Little Miss is in charge of setting up her room and she’s going to help set Belle’s up, too. Superman and I will handle the rest amidst the backdrop of work and prepping for a work trip. As we convert our house into a home, we will have a priest come and bless it, so we start the season holy. We’re also going to begin Story of This Life’s December Nativity & Scripture tradition (the link will take you to a Facebook video, and there are instructions on their Facebook page as well). Little Miss fell in love with the idea and we’re running with it.
Week Two: December 3-9 The first week of Advent, we’ll pull out our Advent wreath and light the first candle (with prayer) each night at dinner. We’ll also use this week to decorate our home for the season (sorry…we don’t wait!) and continue our Story of This Life activity. We’ll also spend some time with family that weekend. St. Nick stops by our home, too, so he’ll leave chocolate coins, a Cutie orange, and a book for Little Miss. Don’t forget: December 8 is a holy day of obligation! Little Miss and I are also attending a holiday tea. All of our Angel Tree and Toys for Tots donations will be due this week.
Week Three: December 10-16 We’ll kick off the second Sunday of Advent with a St. Nicholas breakfast at church and will begin lighting the first two candles of our wreath at home. This is also when we go looking at Christmas lights to celebrate the feast of St. Lucy. New for us this year? We’re attending an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass & Tamale Dinner at our parish. Again, we’ll continue the Story of This Life activity.
Week Four: December 17-23 For the third week in Advent, we’ll light all three candles and celebrate with our nightly wreath and Story of This Life activities. School will come to an end, so there will be an end-of-year party. We’ll begin reading A Christmas Carol and then watching our favorite versions of it this week, too. Our favorites, by the way, are Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Muppet’s Christmas Carol, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol…in fact, I think Disney has made all three of these! This will be the week for cookie baking, too!
Week Five: December 24-30 In this strange, final week of Advent/beginning of the Christmas season, we’ll be going to Sunday morning Mass and then Christmas Eve Mass for the Children’s Choir performance ahead of having some family time on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, Little Miss will be tasked with locating all of the hidden Baby Jesuses from our Nativity scenes and placing them where they belong prior to opening gifts. Then the race is on to find the hidden pickle ornament (a German tradition, honoring our ancestral roots, which we learned about in Epcot’s Germany on our “familymoon.”). This link will take you to a site for German beer steins (so if you happen to be in the market for some…lol), but we liked it’s explanation. We’ll then eat our traditional breakfast of cinnamon rolls with my parents and do Christmas with them ahead of going to my in-laws’ home for Christmas dinner, where we’ll have Christmas with cousins and aunts and uncles. We also begin our Wise Men Seeking Jesus tradition this week.
There’s a lot on this schedule, but it’s centered around two things: the liturgical season (and its meaning) and our family. We’ve got our own traditions as well as those of our families-of-origin, with focuses on giving and the meaning of the season. For us, this helps ensure that we’re doing the most wonderful time of the year correctly.
Here are some insights into last year’s Advent and more, with all of our Advent posts:
Don’t forget to join us on social media, posting about your own Advent 2017 celebrations using the hashtag #HowWeAdvent. We’ve got a lot of our blogging friends on board using the same hashtag, so if you’re coming up short for ideas, search it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for inspiration.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, the most wonderful time of the year. Let us know how you celebrate in the comments!