I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was noisy and fun, just surrounded with beautiful, simple food and beloved family. I was so tired that we spent the next 2 days doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g! Literally. Therefore I am a little behind getting ready for the St. Nicholas party here on Dec. 1st. Grocery shopping was haphazard and I have no idea what we will be eating this week. But I did get lots of sleep!
I did manage to put a little thought into our Advent plans. It's just a beautiful time to me, and I am really enjoying sharing it with the kids as they get a little older. Here is our Advent wreath with lovely candles recycled from last year...
We read the prayers together and the first candle burned during our Sunday night dinner.
I decided to make little cards with one-word inspirations on them as a focus for our good deeds. These are areas that we all need to improve on within the family, and we will each draw one randomly on each Sunday of Advent to inspire us for the week ahead. It was uncanny how perfectly matched each word was to the one who drew it this week!! God knows what we all need.
As always, for each good deed in the next 4 weeks, we will be adding straw to a little basket representing Baby Jesus' bed, making it as deep and soft as possible before His birthday. It's delightful to see how earnestly the kids are trying to please Him, at least so far! It's a great reminder to me of how important it is for all of us to have a focus and motivation for our good works, and of how wise the Church is to give us these seasons and challenges to reach higher in our efforts to love and serve.
So granted, none of the above takes any time to actually do, so this year I am finally implementing a Jesse Tree devotional for each day. I've never done one in the past, either because I didn't get myself together in time, or the kids weren't really old enough to participate. I searched online and found there are dozens of versions out there, kind of overwhelming! Basically, this is a way of learning salvation history through well-loved bible stories. Each story has an accompanying symbol which is made into an ornament and hung on a tree. I settled on something that seemed very simple and sweet even for small children, with printable symbols to make it easy for me. Our tree is just a little Christmas tree I happened to have, although I would have liked a real branch if I'd had more time. Here is our first ornament, the shoot from the "root of Jesse" (Isaiah 11: 1-2)
It's been fun putting the materials together and the kids seem to be into it. What kid doesn't love a story, especially a bible story filled with drama? I hope this will help us all to see the big picture of why Jesus' birth is so important and that there really is more to Christmas than shopping and opening gifts. We love everything about Christmas here, so it is a joy to deepen our understanding and discover greater meaning to our beloved traditions.
There will be lots of fun celebrations along the way, too. Advent is really such a joyful time! St. Nicholas day is big, and as I mentioned, the party for our homeschool group will be here, on Wednesday. It is a big party! I'm also planning a peppermint day, something yet-to-be-determined for December 8, (the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception), and a Mexican feast for Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. I am sure there are more celebrations to follow, they're just not on my radar yet! We always drive around to look at Christmas lights around Christmas day, but I recently heard of someone who had a tradition of doing it for St. Lucy's day, December 13. I'll have to look into that.
One thing I still need to do is get together our Advent/Christmas book basket. That will be another post. For now, Advent blessings to all my readers! I hope this is a special time for all of your families.
PS: Oh, and it's Catholic Cyber Monday at Lacy's - look at all these deals she has rounded up!! You could shop all day right there.