I love, love, love Advent. It’s not because of all of the school Christmas concerts and parties, or even because it means Christmas is near, but because I love our family Advent traditions.
I know there is some discussion among moms about doing too many traditions and that leading to burnout. I get that. So please, if you are a new mom starting Advent traditions with your young family, please take that warning to heart. Don’t try to do too much!
However, don’t let that intimidate you to not try to start any of your own traditions. Sure, these activities take some work, and sure, they take energy and planning, but what meaningful things in life don’t?
For most families, traditions are a vital part of their family fabric. It’s what marks their family as unique. After building our own family traditions for over 30 years, I have seen this firsthand. Hearing my grown children, who have flown the nest but come home often to visit, reflect with nostalgia on their remembrance of these Advent traditions warms this mother’s heart.
I like to think that these traditions and memories are more than just nostalgia or sentimentality. Our family traditions based on faith help build the very core of who we are — not just sons and daughters of Keith and Tami Kiser, but sons and daughters of the living God. They make us a unique and remarkable earthly family, but also reminders that we are members of God’s family, one church, Catholic and Apostolic.
My youngest child is six. She is “prime” age for the Advent wreath, Advent calendar, Jesse Tree, the St. Nick shoes, the Our Lady of Guadalupe play performance, the St. Lucy breakfast, the Creche without the baby Jesus and wandering Wise Men, our Advent book collection, the O Antiphons …
If reading this list exhausts you, and you think that I am “Super-Liturgical Mom,” I’m not. I’ve just taken time every year to do a new tradition or tweaked one that we had. It’s actually easy once you’ve collected everything (like your advent wreath or Jesse tree ornaments, or play props) and do it the same way every year. I just get down our large plastic Advent bin from the attic after Thanksgiving. Voila! Family Advent traditions!
Recently on the first Sunday of Advent this year, I had a house full of family gathered for our Sunday dinner. With spouses, friends, grandchildren, and a lot of my own kids — both those who are still at home and those who’ve moved out, we numbered almost 20. My grown kids who were there were looking over the Advent stuff with fondness. As we sat down to our meal, we started with the blessing of the Advent wreath. We lit the first candle.
Next, we engaged in one of our earliest, and by far the simplest Advent traditions. Instead of saying the usual Catholic meal blessing –”Bless us, O Lord …” we say an Advent meal blessing. New spouses, girlfriends (with 8 boys in our family, we always have a lot of girlfriends around) and friends, look around in confusion and surprise as those familiar with this tradition chime into this known Advent prayer before the meal. We give each other sideways glances and smiles as if we are all “in on it.”
And we are! We are part of the Kiser Domestic Church with our own secret handshake. (We don’t really have a secret handshake — but sometimes these little family traditions feel like this.)
And luckily, our “secret-handshake” grace before the Advent meal has an easy response at the end so that before it is over, every guest to our table can join in and feel like part of our family —
Because they are!!
So this simple Advent prayer before meals is truly one of my favorite Advent traditions! Here’s why: It calls us to prayer and honors God; it sets Advent apart from the rest of the year with it’s own unique mealtime grace; it’s special to our family; it doesn’t require any preparation (woohoo); and finally, it’s easy for others to participate with us and be a part of our family.
This is the prayer we say:
Leader: Come, Lord Jesus.
Response: Come, quickly.
Leader: Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ, King of all creation.
Leader: Blessed are you in this food and in our sharing.
Leader: Blessed are you as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of your Kingdom.
Response: For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours now and forever.
Please feel free to add this to your stash of family Advent traditions. We didn’t compose it, but found it long ago in an unknown Advent resource that’s since been lost.
Copyright 2018 Tami Kiser