Each and every Advent finds me debating on which of the many Advent “countdown” traditions to use for the year. Between my sons’ favorite Lego Calendar to anything with chocolate for both my husband and daughter, the choices are boundless, limitless and I believed did very little to actually prepare us for the coming of our Lord.
Will this year be different? Probably not, and I am okay with that.
Why? Because they are preparing our family….OUR family.
Advent trees, chains, calendars, and the like should not be looked upon with a one-size fits all mentality. The “Good Lord,” as my grandmother calls Him, made each and every one of us a unique image of himself. Our God is limitless and boundless. Our collective talents, gifts, personas, etc. mirror that infiniteness of God in our very own finite way.
What’s the point? What works for one family may simply NOT work for yours or those whom you are called to serve. Obviously, we should all try to embrace the tradition of the Advent Wreath reading the prayers, at a minimum, on Sundays.
I would like to share with you a few other traditions that, while still embracing the whole idea of a countdown, do it a tad more spiritually than others:
- Jesse Tree (Journey through the Bible this Advent. Learn and grow in faith as a family.): http://www.catholicmom.com/
- 12 Days of Christmas (Back when we homeschooled, I used this resource with the kids to teach them the real meaning of one of the most popular of all Christmas songs. Ok. Maybe I should save this one for AFTER Christmas. Consider it a heads up!!): http://www.currclick.com/
There are many, many, many others, but these are the ones that I know would work with my family-we are a passionate, energetic bunch where everyone gets a turn!!
Finally (on this note), I think every Catholic parent should read this article:
- Celebrating Advent as a Family: http://www.catholicmom.com/
Beyond these resources, I seek to add meaning to our waiting…within our families and faith communities. Advent is so much more than a countdown to Christmas-presents!
We are waiting, hoping, sacrificing, remembering…”in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” This Advent Season, I invite you to learn and grow with me.
What to do? I am going to challenge my family and myself to seek out meaning this Advent. Our preparations this year will endeavor to be less external (i.e., house ready, gifts wrapped, cookies baked, stockings stuffed, and cards out) and more internal (i.e., prayer, sacrifice, meditation, and learning).
We are STILL going to do those external things. They are, after all, part of who we are as a family. We must never forget that. We can’t just throw out everything we’ve done in the past because we are seeking deeper meaning. That’s just wrong and extremely unfair to our children and ourselves. The two can co-exist. I just takes a bit more work and planning.
This journey towards meaning, for me as a catechetical leader, begins with learning more about The Three Advents. Here are a few articles:
- Fr. James Conner, OCSO’s article from the Center for Ethics at Baylor University -http://www.baylor.edu/content/
- Deacon Owen F. Cummings’ article from “Today’s Liturgy” - http://content.ocp.org/ocp.
- A lesson plan on the Three Advents, also from Baylor: http://www.baylor.edu/content/
I also recently started a subscription to Give Us This Day- Digital Edition (http://www.giveusthisday.org/
For my family, we will start a new tradition: A Good Deeds Manger. (Our babies are 12, 10, and 7.) There are, literally, hundreds of sites where you can find directions. Here is just one of them:
- EWTN Craft Corner - http://www.ewtn.com/
Finally, I have also committed myself to PRAY with our kids at bedtime just like I used to when they really were babies. I know. I know. What was I thinking to cease doing this??? In addition to “Now I lay me down to sleep,” we will fold in the Three Advents (past, present, future) complete with readings from our My First Catholic Bible (I believe it is no longer in print, but you can buy it from Amazon.com) and intercessory prayer.
I would LOVE to hear how YOU plan to rethink and rediscover the blessings of the Season of Advent for your families and/or those whom you are called to serve. Drop me a link using the Comment box below and YOU will be entered into a drawing for a FREE subscription to the digital edition of Give Us This Day. Entries MUST be received on or before Midnight PST on Saturday, December 4, 2011.
Copyright 2011 Dione Grillo