Advent? What’s that? A new form of grammar, like an adverb? Yup, that’s how little I knew about Advent before I became a Catholic. And even when I converted in 2009, it has only been recently that I have felt a yearning to embrace the liturgical year into our household.
It may be that we’re expecting our second baby and we’re truly a family now. It’s not just me and John and a cute little toddler, soon it will be me, and John, a toddler and another baby! Our 17 month old baby girl is growing up so quickly and I feel an intense pressure to be a good example to her. I want her to grow up with memories of wonderful, faithful family traditions. Of prayers at night, stories about the saints, fasting during Lent and slowing down during Advent. There is always something to celebrate in the Catholic faith; feast days, holy days, different liturgical seasons! Oh my, does anyone else feel overwhelmed with how rich our lives could be if we embraced it all?
So how do we, a young Catholic family, far from proficient in the Faith, celebrate Advent in our home?
- We will have a Jesse Tree.
Or a Jesse branch that I will go pick up outside and decorate with free printable ornaments! If you want to make something a bit fancier, try this from CatholicAllYear. Or for $25 you can order it already made from Amazon! We will also read the devotionals that start with Creation and end with Christmas. How cool is this tradition? I didn’t even know it existed and now I can’t wait to do it.
- We will clean out our home.
I want us to make more room for Christ in our home and hearts. And I feel a concrete way to do this is by getting rid of all the unused, unloved, unnecessary stuff in our home.
Shoes I haven’t worn in 3 years? Gone! Picture frames I don’t have space to hang up? Gone! Textbooks from high school? Really? Why am I holding on to these? Be gone textbooks! Cables and electronics that we have carried around with us through 5 moves? Please, be gone!
Why do we collect all this stuff with the fear we may need it one day? Where is my trust in God that I need to surround myself with items to make me feel secure.
I need to practice letting go of these little things, so that I can make room for Him. The less things I have in my home, the more I enjoy the things I do have and the more I can concentrate on loving my family and friends.
This cleaning out will help with us reaching our goal of living frugally and enjoying life.
- We will do a Christmas Novena and add it to our nightly bedtime routine.
- We will have an Advent wreath.
Before converting, I thought wreaths were just for the front door! But the Catholics took it and placed it inside the home, right on the dining room table! To be a centerpoint in preparing the family for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is made up of an evergreen wreath with four candles, three purple and one pink, to be lit on each Sunday of Advent. Here is a bit of the symbolism behind the Advent wreath.
The evergreens resembles continuous life. The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns and the circle of the wreath symbolizes eternity.
The four candles are for the four weeks of Advent. Each week representing a thousand years, the 4,000 years total from Creation to Christmas.
The three purple candles signify penance, prayer and preparatory sacrifices. The pink candle, lit on Gaudete Sunday, symbolized rejoicing as we are halfway to Christmas!
As we light each candle we show our expectation and hope for Christ’s coming at Christmas, and His second coming at the end of time. Additionally, the light signifies our Lord, our light in a world of darkness.
I learned a lot from that! The Catholic faith is so full of ways to incorporate Jesus’s teachings into our everyday lives to be reminded of Him daily. Oh this is fun!
- We will slow down and wait.
This is a beautiful season for our little family, not only to slow down and wait for our Savior at Christmas, but also to slow down and relish in the last few months before our family grows to four! I want us to spend time at home playing with Sue, cooking delicious meals and relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate outside. I don’t want us rushing to stores to buy stuff, becoming frantic with a long list of unnecessary to do’s, only to find ourselves in the New Year without having prepared our hearts for Christ and the new little blessing He is giving us.
Sassy Kathryn urges all families to find their season. This is my season of trying to a pinteresty Advent on a zero dollar budget! Our Christmas tree is a 4ft artificial tree borrowed from my parents, our Advent wreath candles are all white (but have colored ribbons around the holders), and our Jesse Tree is a branch from outside. To me, it is beautiful to see our family embrace the traditions, it has already softened our hearts and made more room for our Lord.
I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to celebrate Advent this year! We are new to this practice of embracing the Catholic liturgical year into our home, so let me know what you do in the comments below!
I wish you a wonderful and blessed Advent!