When I was a child, I do not remember our family following any Advent traditions. We decorated our home for Christmas after (American) Thanksgiving, experienced lots of exciting pre-Christmas family get-together planning and Santa lists, and attended Mass on Christmas Eve. This is in no way a criticism of my wonderful mom, who did the best she could to use us in the faith when (at that time) my dad was not a Catholic. It is just the routine we fell into leading up to Christmas. During those long-ago Advents, my mind was always awhirl, anticipating the fun to come hanging out with my cousins during traditional Christmas Eve visits, and opening presents with my sisters on Christmas morning. With three girls living at home, there was certainly no stillness and quiet in our house in the month of December!
Now, with my own children, I have chosen to try and make Advent distinctive by having them participate with an Advent calendar, and the Advent wreath. I will grant, there is *also* no stillness and quiet while we engage in these activities! They both get so excited about the uniqueness of the traditions during Advent that they end up arguing about whose turn it is to place the next magnet on the calendar nativity scene, or to “help” light the candles in the wreath. What it does, however, is cause stillness and quiet within ME.
It warms my heart to see my children truly enjoy a tradition of our faith. My husband is not a practicing Catholic, but he is very supportive both of my faith and of raising our children in the faith. He too enjoys these Advent traditions! When we all participate together to put out our Advent items, and light the candles each Sunday, it makes my anxious spirit take a luxurious pause. Even if only for a moment, I reflect on how happy I am for us all to be together and celebrating Advent in this special way, and it is a delightful respite in the midst of Christmas shopping and preparation.
Inevitably, Advent will still seem somewhat “noisy” due to all of the Christmas shopping commercials we will all be subjected to. We can do small things though, to still the clamor. Reading the Magnificat Prayers Over an Advent Wreath (Magnificat has a special Advent Companion each year that is absolutely wonderful!), or slowly opening a window on a beautiful Advent calendar can call our minds back to where they need to be for Advent: the glorious anticipation of the birth of Our Savior.
How do you celebrate Advent in your home? How do your children participate? I would love to hear about your traditions in the comments!
Copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh