Catholic Life, Family life, homemaking, Uncategorized

We Aren’t Celebrating Christmas. Yet.

+J.M.J.+

I have always had a hard time being patient waiting for Christmas. As a kid on Thanksgiving afternoon, I would insist on hanging a light-up Christmas angel on our living room window, turning on Christmas music, and begin nagging my parents to get the tree and decorations out of storage. It was Christmas time, you know…

But it actually wasn’t Christmas time. Christmas doesn’t start, according the the Church calendar, until December 25th.

Ethan and I really enjoy our family’s traditions in observing Advent as a season of preparation, then truly celebrating Christmas during, well, the actual Christmas season.

(And here is the obligatory disclaimer… I’m not sharing this to criticize anyone else’s Advent or Christmas traditions, when they decorate, etc. This is simply what our family chooses to do, and why.)

Now before you think I’m a stickler and a scrooge, think about Lent…

Lent seems to be observed by most Catholics with relative strictness: people praying, fasting, and sacrificing during the penitential season to prepare themselves for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter. That joyful morning the fasts are broken, we wish everyone around us a Happy Easter, and we enjoy the celebratory season through Pentecost.

No one thinks me a kill-joy for not singing Jesus Christ is Risen Today or calling out “Happy Easter!” to my friends as we leave services on Good Friday. Why? Because He hasn’t risen yet, liturgically speaking, and it isn’t Easter yet. We think of Advent in the same way.

Now of course when the cashier wishes me a merry Christmas in mid-December, I return the greeting. We still go to the big downtown Christmas walk in our town several weeks before the holiday, and we enjoy driving around looking at pretty lights beforehand, too. But we try to keep the spirit of anticipation and preparation that Advent brings at the forefront in a world where it is mostly forgotten.

Throughout Advent we slowly prepare our home.

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I put up our wreath starting on the First Sunday of the season. (I am using these made-in-the-USA candles found here on Amazon. Next year I want to try and find some made by nuns or a small, family business. Please leave a comment if you have a favorite place to get your candles from; I’d love to look into them myself.) I always put them in simple glass candlestick holders, and tuck them inside of a $5.99 live greenery wreath from Trader Joes.

We set up our Nativity, with baby Jesus in a cupboard until the day of His birth, and the Wise Men across the room until Epiphany.

On the last Sunday in Advent we set up our tree and the greenery on the mantle.

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We don’t use any lights yet, as the True Light of the world has not yet come, and we save the fun ornaments and decorating until His arrival.

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Aside from our home, we try to prepare our hearts for the coming Savior. I attempt to read at least a good chunk of Dom Gueranger’s meditations from The Liturgical Year for the Season of Advent each day. We light our wreath every evening during dinner, and after we eat, we pray the Unfailing Saint Andrew Novena before blowing out the candles.

Similar to Lent, we pick a sacrifice to mortify ourselves with during Advent. In the spirit of good works we take an ornament off of our parish’s giving tree to buy some needed item and books for a child less fortunate than us, remembering how Jesus Himself came to the world as a poor child.

I also ordered this book here off Amazon and we are excited to read the meditations and learn about other historical and cultural traditions surrounding the season.

The anticipation of Christmas really does build, much like Easter is longed for during the midst of Lent. And just as we think of our home as our domestic church, we like it to mirror the transformation that will happen in our parish’s sanctuary on Christmas Eve.

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So, when Christmas actually arrives, it is with such joy we finally turn on the lights, decorate, feast, send out cards, and listen to our favorite carols and hymns of the Season, celebrating Jesus’s birthday. Philomena is all about parties this year, and is excited to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on His special day before we enjoy dessert.

We leave up our decorations until February 2nd, Candlemas, the feast 40 days after Christmas when our Lady took Jesus to be presented in the temple. You can learn more about this feast and why we celebrate until then here.

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We loved these big, hearty scrambles for Christmas breakfasts through Epiphany last year!

May God bless you during the holy season of Advent, as we prepare for the the birth of our Savior.

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This post is part of the Catholic Women Bloggers Network Bloghop. For more writing on this topic, click here.

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Enjoy this post? You may also enjoy Sunday Preparations + {Real Food} White Sauce Lasagna and Am I Enough + Litany of Humility

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6 thoughts on “We Aren’t Celebrating Christmas. Yet.”

  1. Wonderful! I love your nativity scene! Could you share the brand it is and its relative size? I hope your family enjoys Donkey Bells. We have really enjoyed our copy. When you are looking for another book to read (not Advent related), Catherine Doherty’s Fragments of my Life is quite inspiring. God bless you and your family!

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    1. I am really enjoying Donkey Bells. We are excited for the Christmas tree blessing!

      Our Nativity was a gift from a friend. She actually won it as a child in the 50’s at her Catholic school’s Christmas party. I have no idea where to find another like it. We treasure it!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting ❤

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  2. I love the preparing for Christmas part of Advent! My big goal is to get all of my Christmas preparing done before Christmas Eve. That means we’ve cleaned the whole house during the Ember Days, decorated on Gaudete Sunday, made our cookie dough for the 12 days, and generally be set up to ENJOY our Christmas season.

    I’ve learned to front load my Advent and aim to get Christmas cards together and buy Advent candles before that first Sunday comes.

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  3. We decorate our tree with white lights and pink and purple ribbons on the first Sunday of Advent, then we add Christmas ornaments on Christmas eve. Been a long time tradition in our family! Thanks for the great post!

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