November 28, 2010


I have a strong belief that the way a Christian celebrates Christmas should look and feel different than the way non Christians celebrate it.

I also am convinced that the days leading up to Christmas should look and feel different for a Catholic. I would argue that Catholics should keep Advent - the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ - so that our December is counter-cultural.

It's so important to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, to take time to think about what God did and what He will do again with the second coming. It is good to slow down a little bit, to fast before the feast, to long for Someone.

In our home, I have found that the best way to celebrate Advent is to keep Christmas out of it. Currently our house is decorated for Advent - not Christmas. We have empty mangers, a Jesse Tree, the Advent wreath, and stockings. On December 6th we'll awaken to stockings filled by St. Nicholas with gold coin candy and pajamas - because that's what St. Nick brings around here. Every night at dinner we'll light the Advent wreath and a part of the bed time routine will be the Jesse Tree. Christmas music, the Christmas tree, and other little things won't come out until Guadete Sunday -the 3rd Sunday of Advent where we Rejoice that our Savior will come. And then Christmas is celebrated through Epiphany (at least!).

For awhile I felt like this was what good Catholics should do - have Advents that look similar to mine. But then someone told me that people are just trying to do the best they can, and I realized that all the little details don't matter so much - like when you put your Christmas tree up. What matters is that preparations are made for the coming of the Lord.

You'd think that I wouldn't be such a judgemental jerk about how other people get excited about Jesus, but then again if you knew me you probably wouldn't be surprised at all.

Do I still think the goal should be a distinction between Advent and Christmas? Yes. Do I finally see that there are many ways those distinctions can be made? Yes. I'm just trying to do my best, and so are you, right? Good for us. And happy first Sunday of Advent.


  1. First of all, I just rearranged all the magnets and pictures on my refrigerator so I can fit the adorable pic of your kids on it. Now it is there and I smile everytime I look at it. Second of all, Happy first Sunday of Advent! I love your posts. They bring me back to reality and what it means to be a Catholic. I admit, I get all caught up in "Christmastime" stuff during December and forget that Advent is meant for preparing ourselves for Christ, which means getting myself back in that confessional, fasting, and praying. My house is decorated already. On Friday, Nick and I went through hell and back trying to put lights up on the outside of our house. But they are up, and it looks like a couple of amateurs did them, but oh well, they are up and shining. I'm ashamed to say that after going through all of our decorations (penguin cookie jars, penguin statues, snowmen, firemen santa clauses, etc. etc.), we have no nativity scene. ( I guess our house looks more decorated for winter). But Nick and I decided to wait until we go to Assisi, Italy in June, and see if they have one to our liking there. Also, your post reminds me that we need to get an Advent wreath. Did you buy one from somewhere, or make it yourself? I hope you and your family have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas. I am hoping for some free time soon so I can come visit you! I miss you tons! Love you!

  2. I really like the idea of putting the tree up on Guadete Sunday. I'm gonna do the same!

  3. I commend you for your commitment to keep both separate. Your children are very lucky. :)

  4. Mia, our Advent Wreath was given to us and it used to belong to Travis' grandparents. However, I add some (fake) evergreen and berries to it, and that's where I place our nativity's Mary and Jospeh statues until the 24th. Before we were given that, I just made on with a section of evergreen garland and some candles I bought at Wal Mart.
    Have fun making or picking out one for your family!

  5. I really love reading your posts, you have some really great points about Advent and Christmas! I brought up the idea of St. Nicholas vs Santa to my fiance, and this is just one more post I'm going to have to remember to talk with him about! Thanks for writing!

  6. I've wanted to do the chocolate coin thing before but never did it in time for St. Nick's, but this year there is a dollar store near our house and I hear you can get them there. And then today I came across this blog, she created a template to put St Nick on your coins: