Sunday, November 30, 2008
First Sunday of Advent
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We don't typically put up our Christmas tree or other decorations until much closer to Christmas, as we try to remember the penitential aspects of the Advent season. Granted, Advent doesn't seem nearly as penitential as Lent. For one thing, we celebrate FIVE family birthdays during Advent. Mine is this Thursday, followed by Libby's next Thursday and DJ's the following Thursday (see any pattern there?). Pier's is two days before Christmas and Maria's is the day after Christmas (she'll be 21...wow!)
Anyway, it is hard to be penitential during the Advent season because we're thinking of sugerplums and fudge and gingerbread houses and sugar cookies and fruitcake. And, of course, there's St. Nicholas Day on the 6th...Our Lady of Guadalupe on the 12th...St. Lucy's Day on the 13th and several other name days for our family members. December is just one big party at our house.
So, in order to make an effort to maintain a bit of the penitentialness of the Advent season, we are going to make an extra effort to do some other things this year, among them, a Jesse tree. Some explanation and directions for making your own Jesse tree can be found here.
Additionally, we are planning on making our own gifts this year for our Secret Santas. Since there are 12 of us in our immediate family, we found it a bit easier to write names on pieces of paper and draw these names out of a hat on Thanksgiving Day. Each person draws a name and will be the Secret Santa for that person. But this year we made an extra caveat that you must do something creative and make a part of the gift yourself. So, it doesn't have to be entirely handmade, but it has to be at least partially handmade. For example, it could be a gift basket that you assemble yourself, with things that the person enjoys like a movie themed basket or a spa treatment basket. The little kids can make cards or coupons good for helping Mom around the house or doing a special job for Dad. Or, they can do a spiritual bouquet of prayers for a certain person.
We're also going to make an extra effort to eat dinner together as a family each night, light our Advent candles and say the Advent prayers. Along with this, we may have each of the kids read a passage of Scripture.
One other thing we are going to try to do this year is to make some Christmas treats for our neighbors, many of whom are elderly.
I know from past experience not to make too many plans for Advent because I always think I can do more than I realistically can. But I hope this year we will remember to keep Christ in the Season and escape the materialistic madness that always seems to envelope society this time of year.
Blessings to you for a Christ-centered Advent!