This article is contributed by Leslie Sholly and originally appeared on Life in Every Limb.
More than Christmas, more even than Easter, Advent is my very favorite liturgical season.
Part of my affection for Advent stems from my beautiful memories of Catholic school celebrations, but I also love it for how simple it is to incorporate the celebration of this special season into daily life.
Advent Calendar Memories
When I was very young, opening the doors on our Advent calendar each December morning before school was my earliest introduction to the season of Advent.
This is a delightful way to harness children’s anticipation of Christmas to teach a lesson of joyful and patient waiting.
Over the years there have been times we had a calendar for every kid ready to open on December 1, and other times we weren’t on the ball and managed to find the very last available calendar a week into Advent.
This year I’ve got two all ready to go: a scriptural retelling of the Christmas story that I bought at Catholic Door and a chocolate one from Trader Joe’s.
The Treasured Jesse Tree Tradition
Another treasured tradition in our home is the decorating of the Jesse Tree.
I loved doing this every Advent morning when I was in grade school, and have enjoyed incorporating it into our family celebration.
We got our first set of ornaments at our church’s annual Advent workshop (another long-time tradition), and they were all the more treasured because they were colored by little hands.
When we lost them to fire, I found free printables online–there are many to choose from.
Or you could buy this beautiful set my friend Sara has made.
Light the Advent Wreath
Most years we manage to have an Advent wreath.
The biggest challenge is having the right color of candles. (Note to self: check Amazon tomorrow for candles)
The next challenge is that we don’t eat dinner together every night, so some nights the candles don’t get lit. But I like seeing them there just the same.
The Importance of Waiting
Probably our most important Advent tradition is what we DON’T do.
While the secular world and mostly Protestant East Tennessee are happily partying long before the guest of honor has even arrived, in our home we continue to wait.
No, we don’t bah humbug all the Christmas events happening outside our home–we go to the downtown tree lighting the day after Thanksgiving as well as many other fun local events that we look forward to year after year.
But at home things are different.
Right after Thanksgiving I remove the gourds and other harvest items from the mantel and put out simple votive lights. Along with our Advent wreath, these will be our only seasonal decorations until about a week before Christmas, and the tree will go up later than that.
I may not hold off on the Christmas music quite that long, but for at least half the month we will be listening to Advent playlists.
More Great Advent Ideas to Choose From
We don’t do all these things every year. Sometimes we fail at Advent rather spectacularly! (The one we are the very best at is not putting up the decorations early!)
I’ve written a LOT of posts about Advent, if you’d like to check them out:
Meet the Author
I describe myself on my blog as Catholic and Southern, Wife and Mother, which gives a quick but accurate snapshot of who I am and what is important to me. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, where I still live. I graduated from Georgetown University, majoring in Honors English and minoring in Theology. My husband and I met there, and we have been married for 28 years with five children aged 12-26. In addition to blogging, I work at home as my husband’s legal assistant, write grants and do editing for a non-profit run by my mother, and homeschool my youngest. In the past I’ve worked as correspondent for our Diocesan paper and I wrote a column on life issues for several years. I was a charter member and long-term chair of our Diocesan Respect Life Committee, via which I helped to design a pro-life CCD curriculum, sponsored a conference on end-of-life issues, and gave many talks on abortion. My blog is now my primary ministry. My niche is hard to define because I write about what I care about, which covers a lot of territory: Faith, Politics, Education, Parenting, Graveyards, Gardening, Hiking, and the occasional recipe or product review!
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