Focus on Christ this Advent, and everything else will fall into place…
1Dig out your Advent wreath, and make sure you have candles!
The Advent wreath is a beautiful Catholic custom, and lighting the candles together with family or friends always feels magical. The tradition really magnifies the wonder and joy of the season, especially for children.
You’ve got a few options here: You can make your own Advent wreath, gathering greenery with your children for a fun and memorable activity, or purchase an artificial one.
While you’re at it, don’t forget the candles! Many families like to use three purple candles and one pink candle, to match the liturgical colors of the season, but some prefer to use four red or four white candles. You can order candles online, pick them up in-store at Michael’s, or even make your own.
2Decide which Advent devotions and traditions you want to do this year.
There are so many beautiful ways to honor the season. Pick whichever customs sound like the most enjoyable and doable for you. Here are a few of the options:
Advent calendars are always a delight. You can go with a traditional one, or one with chocolate behind the windows, or pick out a novelty one, with options from beer to cheese!
Make a picture book Advent calendar and create special family memories of reading a new Christmas book every day. You can even get the books from your local library to save space and cash!
The Jesse tree tradition helps you dig into Scripture and the deep symbolism behind the Christmas story.
The Christmas anticipation prayer, also called the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, is a lovely way to honor Christ and his mother during Advent.
Many families like to celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6 with the tradition of leaving treats in children’s shoes the night before the feast.
The key here is to choose which of the many possible Advent and Christmastime traditions are a good fit for you and your family, and commit to only doing those—while freely letting go of the others. You really can’t go wrong! The only rule is not to take on more than you can handle: There isn’t an activity in the world that’s worth upsetting your peace.
3Share the Christmas story with your children and loved ones.
Maybe you’re in a season of “survival mode,” and there’s too much on your plate already to even think about adding extra holiday traditions. Or maybe you’re questioning if you’ve adequately prepared your family for Christmas. How can you know what’s most important to do this season?
Luckily the answer is easier than you might think. Once, when a mother was questioning whether she was “doing enough” to celebrate the liturgical year with her children, a wise priest told her, “Just make sure they know the story.”
Read the Christmas story. Talk about the story, the beauty of it, the truth of the Incarnation that will never cease to be astonishing beyond the power of humans to comprehend. This time of year, happiness and childlike wonder are all around us, and luckily the magic of the season is free and accessible to all.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to spend lots of money or go to great lengths to create Christmas magic. It can be found right here, in your home: drinking hot cocoa after school, cuddling up to read a book next to twinkly lights, slowly looking at the Nativity-scene figures one by one, lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, singing together “O come, O Come, Emmanuel.” He will come, as He does eternally, born anew in each of our lives and hearts—no matter how we have prepared, no matter whether we feel ready.
That’s the incredible part: We don’t really have to do anything to prepare at all. As long as we open our hearts, He will come—and all that’s left for us to do is to give thanks for the gift of His love, so far beyond our deserving, that is here in abundance for our taking, every day of our lives.
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