I love this time of year.
I always have, but since becoming Catholic, it’s even more wonderful. It’s become more packed with meaning and different ways to celebrate. I’m a lover of tradition, and we’ve begun bringing in some new traditions to our family to celebrate many of the feast days that are so abundant during Advent.
There are some old traditions that I haven’t let go of, even though many will say that a true observance of Advent means that we should. We still put up our Christmas tree and decorate it fully on the day after Thanksgiving.
Since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered that lot of people don’t decorate their Christmas tree or do much, if any, actual Christmas celebrating until Christmas day, and then they celebrate for the 12 days after Christmas. I think that’s fantastic, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to implement that in my family, and I don’t think I really even want to.
I think that’s okay.
I do try to emphasize the waiting aspect of Advent with my kids. We have an Advent Wreath. We do a Jesse Tree, thanks to Kendra and these ornaments (I did a version of Method B, printed the images provided onto printable and ironable fabric, and then ironed them onto felt – no sewing!). We open different Christmas books during each day of Advent, that I’ve wrapped in purple or pink paper, depending on the week. We put out our shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas.
These are things that I’ve gradually added in. This is only my third religious Christmas, so I’m trying to take baby steps. I’m learning what works for us and what doesn’t. I can do an Advent wreath. I can do a Jesse tree. I can’t not decorate my Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition that I love too much. Maybe some year, we’ll decide to move back the day we do it, but that’s not this year.
This year I’m trying to add in a few new traditions. Tuesday was the Feast (or Solemnity??) of the Immaculate Conception. The girls enjoyed providing a little bit of decoration by rounding up all the Mary statues and holy cards from around the house.
Front and center was Miss’s Immaculate Conception peg doll that she specifically requested for her birthday a couple of years ago. She was pretty excited to put that out there.
I decided to implement a new Immaculate Conception tradition of eating an all-white dinner, since the Immaculate Conception emphasizes Mary’s purity and preservation from sin. White = pure… so, dinner:
This dinner was a last minute decision, so I chose things that I could make with minimal effort. Cheese ravioli in butter, roasted cauliflower, and poached fish. The result was okay. The fish was supposed to be halibut poached in olive oil, but I couldn’t get halibut at my grocery store so I had to settle for cod. Then I burned the heck out of my olive oil and had to start over again with vegetable oil. Cod poached in vegetable oil. It was about as tasty as it sounds. BUT, the rest of the food was good and the girls really got into the reason we were eating white food, which is the whole point, obviously. And of course we had vanilla ice cream topped with white chocolate chips afterward. Over all, I’d say this is a tradition we can continue. Next year I’ll plan ahead a bit and chose a better recipe for white food though.
Yesterday we celebrated St. Juan Diego’s feast day. This one was pretty easy to do, because our parish had a “Mary Party,” with our associate pastor in attendance as Juan Diego himself.
The kids played games and made a craft and they absolutely loved it.
Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m making quesadillas for dinner, and maybe we’ll do some sort of craft. We’ll read a book about her that the girls will open that morning.
Sunday is St. Lucy’s feast day. This one always seems like it has so much potential for fun celebrating, but I just can’t bring myself to make saffron buns from scratch. Maybe I’ll try at least making cinnamon rolls the way Lacy suggests in this post as something different and special to mark the day. I can probably even manage to craft St. Lucy crowns with my girls or something.
You can see I really plan this stuff in advance.
I think the point for me is that I’m trying to gradually add in more activities that acknowledge the beauty of all our Church has for us to celebrate this season, hoping that these things will become traditions for us and that my girls will look forward to them each year. I try to do this all year long, but this season is special because there’s so much potential.
If we don’t make funny-shaped cinnamon rolls or paper candle crowns on Sunday, I’m not going to beat myself up. We have a book about St. Lucy and I’ll print out a coloring page and call it good. I don’t want observance and celebration of the liturgical stuff to be stressful for me or for them.
Baby steps, right?