|Wearing purple for the first Sunday of Advent|
My plans this year for children ages 10, 8, 5, 3, and 1 are simpler than others years, but not the simplest I've ever aimed for.
|Joseph (3) insisting on a photograph of his new book from Chik-Fil-A|
- Sunday started with a family meeting to choose a sacrifice each of us is going to make for the season. It is a penitential season.
"The Church commemorates and renews this expectation with each recurring Advent, expressing this longing to a Savior who is to come. . . . If we have been somewhat drowsy and languid in Our Lord's service, now is the time to arouse ourselves to a new life, to strip ourselves generously of our meanness and weakness, and to 'put on Jesus Christ,' that is, His holiness." (Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, 1964)
""As we enter into the season of Advent, let us strive to do so prayerfully! Historically, Advent is a penitential season (which is why we use the color violet at Mass), but it's also a time of prayerful reflection so that, by our prayer and penance, we might be fully ready for the Lord's coming. Culturally, the whole notion of prayerful and penitential preparation during this time of year has been lost, and instead the period of time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is a time of parties, excess, and celebration. As it is well nigh impossible to avoid the anticipatory Christmas celebrations of this time of the year, my best suggestion is to do your best to carve out a little extra prayer time amidst the hustle and bustle of the season. I also heartily suggest that you fast from something during Advent, just as we do in Lent. By making the effort to fast and pray a little more in this busy season, we will both please God and be better prepared for our Lord's coming at Christmas!" (11/27/16 Bulletin, Fr. Timothy Reid, St. Ann's Catholic Church)
- Put purple wreath on the front door. The red wreath will come out on Dec. 25.
- Daily (2 minutes during breakfast): Each morning, read the meditation for the day from the Spiritual Christmas Crib, which starts Dec. 1 (click here).
- I'm hoping the above meditation will help us with our good deed straws: When the children feel they did a good deed or made a sacrifice, they get to put a straw of hay in Baby Jesus' creche.
- Nightly (10 minutes after dinner?): light Advent wreath and sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
- No Advent calendar with chocolates this year. Instead, we're making a paper chain (to count down to Advent) with prayer intentions written on each chain, so we're sure to pray for those people, countries, or virtues each night. (10 seconds at breakfast time)
I did not let perfection be the enemy of the good when I discovered that this homeschooling mother was out of all construction paper colors except black. I just used white printer paper to make my paper chain, and not one of my children noticed or cared that they weren't purple and pink despite my anxiety about it. ("Now I've ruined it all. What kind of mother doesn't have pink and purple construction paper?")
Benefit of having an 8-year-old girl: she made the chain for me!
|Making the prayer paper chain|
|Hanging the white prayer paper chain|
- Put out the nativity scene: children are allowed to play with it. Convince children who think they are parents that, yes, even littler siblings are encouraged to play with the animals, even if they put them in the "wrong" places ("Nooooo! The sheep doesn't go there!").
|Playing with the nativity scene|
- Pull out our collection of Advent and Christmas books (most bequeathed to us by a dear relative) and--for the first time this year--wrap each one to open once per day. If I were more crafty, they'd have been decorated beautifully, but as it is they are wrapped in brown paper and have dates written on them in black Sharpie. (No promise to read a book a day, but we will read as the mood suits us.)
- Three times weekly: We will be completing the children's retreat-at-home, "My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith" by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. There are 12 meditations in this wonderful book, so we're planning to complete them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout Advent.
- Nov. 30: Start St. Andrew Christmas novena (which would be the first year we do this).
- Dec. 17-23: Add in O Antiphons prayers.
- Celebrate the many and varied saints during Advent in their own ways. (I took a list of ideas and made a calendar entry for each one, setting Gmail to email me a reminder of the feast day with accompanying idea one week ahead of each date.)
Bonus Reading: "Where Did Advent Go?" by Maria von Trapp