we are almost through with week one of advent... and i am thinking alot about how to really spend my days, our days, during this super important time of year.
of course we have all year to grow and change and expand our love and knowledge of who God is and what He is in our lives, but the ebb and flow of the seasons are so necessary. it is so obvious to me that we are beings that crave ritual. we find safety and security in the repetition of the things we know. even nature tells us this... spring, summer, fall, winter, be born, grow, age, die. the christian gets the added bonus of our ritual through the year... and so this is why advent means something. it has a purpose. it's the darkness before the Light- preparation, self-reflection and renewal. making ourselves ready to recieve, in us, the baby Jesus. our hearts a manger. our minds as eager as the shepherd boy.
these last few years as a catholic have been huge for me in my awakening to this ritual. i just crave it. i crave the quite and solace of advent, the getting ready for christmas. real christmas.
so, in the midst of that i have been trying to scrounge together ways to make advent alive in our home, for our family.
here are my suggestions to you (aka what we are doing, which were mostly stolen/inspired by other incredible mom's that i love and adore):
1. make a jesse tree. i have already talked about this... see that here. i gotta say, we have plugged away at this tree for three years now and it is really paying off this year. the girls are so excited to hang the ornament for the day and they sit and listen as we read the story that corresponds. it is becoming such an incredible tradition.
2. have an advent wreath. each sunday a new candle is lit, filling the home with more light as we get closer to christmas. also, for catholic kids and some from other denominations that still practice this tradition, they get the excitement of seeing the new candle lit at mass on sunday and are able to relate to it in a special way.
3. create an atmsophere of reflection and magic in your home. twinkly lights, votives in front of an image of Jesus, a nook to cuddle up and read books about christmas and the birth of Christ... all the things that draw our senses to the season. i want my house to say... "there is something special happening here." as our kids grow up i hope this will inspire them to wonder about what actually is different... and how they should become different, too.
4. make a manger. this is a new one for us this year. we put a small basket in the living room with a jar full of straw-colored yarn nearby. each time the girls do something especially kind or thoughtful, or make a sacrifice of some kind, they can take some yarn and put it in the manger. the idea is that, over time, the manger will fill with "straw" and become a cozy bed for baby Jesus. a simple way to think of how every kind word we speak or beautiful thing we do can make our hearts a home for Him.
5. create a ritual. make a commitment to do something as a family to satisfy our need for ritual, and to foster an atmosphere of thoughtfulness and anticipation. we are saying a decade of the rosary together every night. it has been amazing. kirby makes the girls lead us and they shout "HAIL MARY!!!" at the top of their lungs as we being each prayer. it is hilarious and inspiring to see them ask for things with such faith. tonight hero's rosary intention was that she would get a princess dollhouse for christmas, mary (true story) asked for Jesus to come in her heart. what?!?!
it's amazing to me what happens when we give our kids the opportunity to know God and to meet Him. these hollered "hail mary's" that, i am sure, make heaven alive with joy over our living room scene.
Anyway... create a ritual. whatever it is...do it. if we end up sticking to our rosary every night i know, by christmas, our family will be changed by the commitment we made together and by the ritual we experienced as a family.
i am vicariously joining with all of you, too... as you start your journey towards that Holy Night. let's make a space so that our hearts and minds can get quiet enough to hear the secret magic of a Baby born that changed everything. and He is still doing it. over and over again.
speaking of change... here are my goals for these next few weeks.
1. slow down.
2. do all this stuff i mentioned. excitedly, patiently.
3. stop wasting time on the internet.
4. stay on top of things at home so that we can have a relaxed space in which to experience advent together.
5. look for moments of magic everywhere. and grab them.
"Advent is a time of the presence and the expectation in the eternal. Exactly for this reason, it is... the time of joy, an internalized joy, that no suffering can negate. Joy because God is made child." -Pope Benedict