The other day, I recorded a quick live video on instagram explaining how I am mostly done with my Christmas shopping this year! I know, I know…sounds a little OCD crazy, right? I am usually pretty early on getting things done for Christmas, but this is by far the earliest I’ve been able to check most of the items off of my to-do list before the month of December.
Why do I ensue in this madness when Christmas is over a month away? (What am I on Hobby Lobby time!?)
Honestly, it’s not so that I can start celebrating Christmas earlier…it’s so I can actually appreciate Christmas when it arrives!
For so long, Christmas just felt hectic and stressful and I never felt at peace in the days leading up to it. I decided a few years ago to be more mindful about how I spend my time before Christmas, and slowly began practicing Advent with more intention.
I love Advent because, as the culture around us enters into the busiest, most hectic time of the year, the Church wisely calls back to center ourselves in Christ. During Advent, we have the most blessed opportunity to say “no” to the culture’s insistence that we overindulge, celebrate too early, and focus more on consumption (as if things will fill the void in our heart and bring us sustainable happiness), rather than focusing on the True source that our hearts long for.
This year, I decided to start even earlier than normal in an effort to plan all the feast days and Advent traditions that I always want to celebrate but either never feel prepared for or never feel like I have time to do! I thought I’d share my ideas on here today!
Here are some of the things I have planned for Advent this year:
-I’m REALLY excited about this Advent Nativity Calendar that I bought for us. I am not a big fan of the chocolate door ones (because my kids just end up expecting chocolate every day and fighting over who gets it), and I don’t want to get trapped into giving my kids 25 gifts each day before Christmas ever even arrives. I think the nativity calendar is a perfect way to help keep Christ at the center of our Advent! There’s also this one and these sweet pieces you could consider adding to your Advent calendar practice if you already have one you like!
-Every year we celebrate Advent together by lighting our Advent candles on our Christmas wreath each Sunday and saying some prayers together. This Advent Candle holder is similar to the one I have (though I think this one is even prettier!). A little different than a traditional wreath, but I like ours because it has a nativity!
-“My Catholic Kids Co.” has some really amazing Jesse Tree Products for Advent this year! My kids LOVE playing with their products, and I am SO happy that they created a Jesse Tree that seems so doable and easy to manage!
-I just can’t say enough good things about the journals that Take Up and Read create! I especially love their Rooted in Hope Advent Journals because they have proved to be a vital tool for cultivating and maintaining peace during the busiest times of the year! I absolutely love the author’s (Elizabeth Foss) spiritual insight, and love that this journal includes Scripture, reflections, calls-to-action, and that it even includes a place for panning all your Christmas to-do’s! (Such a great way to bring the busyness to prayer each day!)
-One of the best ways I’ve found to make the old Saint Nicholas/Santa question easier is to just acknowledge that HE REALLY EXISTS! Jolly Old Santa Claus is the same person as Saint Nick! So, for us to bring him into our traditions while still keeping Christ at the center, we celebrate St. Nick’s feast day to teach our children all about his life! It’s a new tradition in our household, but I have really come to love it.
This year, in order to promote a sense of gratitude, generosity and an appreciation for the things we have, we are going to spend the day before St. Nicholas’s feast day (which is on the 6th) going through the house and placing all the toys we don’t play with our use in this Santa Bag.
Then we are going to leave the bag out with our shoes for Ol’ St. Nick to come and fill our shoes with goodies overnight! (An old tradition that honors Saint Nicholas’s real-life generosity with the people in his town.) For gifts, he’ll bring St. Nick Christmas pajamas oranges, chocolate coins (I got ours at Aldi already because I ALWAYS forget and rush around the night before trying to find them), and a couple of books about Saint Nicholas: Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend ,and The Baker’s Dozen . My plan is for us to read “The Baker’s Dozen,” bake some St. Nick cookies with this Saint Nick Cookie Cutter, and watch a Santa Claus movie. I’m really looking forward to this day in Advent!
That’s all I have for you today! There are a few more Feast days that we’ll celebrate (Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucia), but celebrating these days will only require a bit of forethought about what we’ll eat and the art we’ll create together for that day. I’ll share more on that later!