Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent: The First Week, Deck the Halls!

 We normally start decorating later than others for Christmas but as the First Sunday of advent came and went I was feeling a little like a scrooge.   The only decoration so far was our advent wreath, 3 mornings had been missed on the advent calendar and our new Elf on the shelf was still sitting in the box with my 6 year old asking, ”Do you really think if we open him he will fly out of the box?”  

Please don’t think we do not embrace the magic and mystery of Christmas in our home. The decorations, music, the smell of goodies are all part of our Christmas celebration.  Somehow time just got away from me. I will blame my tardy start to decorating on the 70 degree weather outside.  A little cold weather, especially snow, always puts me in the Christmas mood. Instead the spring like weather has made me want to clean my house first. Yesterday I decided precious time was being wasted.  Snow or no snow, messy house or not, there was only 20 days left to enjoy the magic of preparing for Christmas.

When the kids arrived home from school yesterday they were greeted by the smell of a Christmas candle and Christmas music.  “No electronics or TV tonight we are getting out the Christmas decorations!,” I said. “You got the house clean!?” my six year old said excitedly. I kept telling her over the weekend our house was too messy to decorate. To my sadness not everyone responded with cheers like she did, maybe we had a house full of scrooges this year. “It takes so long to decorate,” my oldest daughter said, “and you never let us help that much because things are breakable”. Maybe I should’ve turned on the AC so it felt like it was cold outside to get them all in the mood?  Despite the lack of enthusiasm I pushed forward, while making a mental note to not be so controlling and let the kids help more, it didn’t have to be perfect.

With the door wide open to the fresh air and dusting furniture as we went the boxes of decorations were carefully and sometimes not so carefully placed around the house. Even though at the end of the evening the snow village Grinch no longer had presents in his hand and Cindy Lou Who could not stand anymore everything looked great.  We turned out all the lights, sat on the couch and took it all in. I am content to say at that point we ALL were in the Christmas Spirit.

Below are some pictures of our decorations, with more still to come. Our tree goes up later in the month and we a few rooms are not complete. As a whole it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our home and as a bonus it was below freezing when I got up this morning!

This is my favorite Nativity scene.
The broken :) Grinch Snow Village.

My son added a Santa hat  to the squirrel made by my husbands grandmother.
Snow Village
Non Breakable Decorations! Missing pieces already, only the 3 Wise Men they haven't arrived yet anyway.
Christmas Dishes
Handmade Decorations.

The morning Sunrise, God's addition to our decoration!

At Church this week:

Advent Decorations: Advent begins the liturgical year in the church. The church is decorated in Purple. This is a time to prepare for the birthday of Jesus. At our church there are candles in a circle to represent the advent wreath. The number of candles lit at the beginning of mass each week will correspond to the week in advent we are celebrating.

The Giving Tree:  Like many churches there is a tree with tags for members of the community that could use a little help at Christmas time. Take a tag and gift your neighbor for Christmas. My children really enjoy this.  We try to adopt a family about our size and the kids help select gifts and wrap them.  There are many ways to help others during the Advent season, start by checking at your church for opportunities.

Communal Penance Service: This may seem like a downer to the season, but it is an important part of the season, that we unfortunately do not always make time for. Jesus’ purpose in coming to live among us was to in the end die for our sins.  So to fully enjoy the Christmas Spirit, we need to ask for forgiveness for our sins however big or small, and start the Liturgical year renewed in spirit.

St. Nicholas Feast Day: December 6 is the feast of St. Nicholas (patron saint of children). St. Nicholas was a real person who lived in the fourth century. He opened his home to homeless and secretly left gifts of food and money for the people in the night. Sounds a lot like someone who visits on Christmas Eve doesn’t it? One church custom on his feast day is for families to leave their shoes out the night before and in the morning they are filled with treats.

Immaculate Conception: December 8 is when the Catholic Church celebrates the immaculate conception of Mary. Our Church celebrates mass on this day.

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