Advent has four Sundays, but our celebration of Advent and Christmas starts a little bit earlier.
I always like to make cut out cookies during November and then freeze them. The kids always help and it creates a huge fun mess! I also made Kiss cookies, fudge, and buckeyes to enjoy.
Usually we get and decorate our Christmas tree and house the weekend after Thanksgiving. I don’t like to do it on a weekend when I don’t have an extra day, because I haven’t found a way to get everything else completed (laundry, clean the bathroom, change the sheets, etc.), plus be able to enjoy decorating the tree without arguing with our children. This year we didn’t do it over Thanksgiving break because we were in Missouri. So we did it the following weekend when my husband and I had Friday off to take care of our son, so it all worked out. (Except I got a migraine and was in bed half the day, and the husband shattered his cell phone, oh nelly.)
The Christmas tree and decorations usually come down before I have to go back to work after Christmas break, which is before the Christmas season is over. We’re still celebrating Christmas but our house does not have the decorations up anymore.
On Sundays the kids have been really great about reminding me to light the Advent candles and put the ornaments on the Jesse Tree. They get excited and ask questions. I haven’t been lighting the candles during the week because dinner is just too hectic. By the time we get home from work and picking everyone up from the babysitter and school we’re not home until 5:15 and then it’s hurry up and eat, then bath, book, and bedtime. WHEW! We haven’t even been putting up the Jesse Tree ornaments every night either so we put a few up at a time on the weekends. We still have a discussion about why the ornaments were made the way that they are, what they mean, and how they connect to Jesus.
St. Nicholas, Santa, and our elf, Rufus, all make appearances throughout the month.
On the eve of St. Nicholas’ feast the shoes are left out. He has left jammies each year, except last year he brought some Christmas movies because everyone’s Christmas jammies still fit! And this year he brought new footie pjs.
On Christmas morning the kids wake us up and we’ll go down and look in the stockings. The other gifts stay wrapped and we’ll get ready for Mass. After Mass we’ll finish opening presents. There are two reasons why we choose to go to Mass on Christmas morning instead of Christmas Eve. The time for Mass on Christmas morning is 9:00 and that’s the time that works best for us to go on Sundays so the timing is perfect! It’s another way that we can show our children, by example, that it’s Jesus’ birthday, here’s a way that we celebrate His day.
Rufus is helpful - not a nuisance. Trust me, I don’t need another mess to clean up.There’s one on my dining room floor that’s been there since Halloween. Rufus likes to go in different places. Rufus will eventually set up the Fisher Price Nativity again. (The kids love to play with it! So it doesn’t stay set up.) He hangs onto the chairs when it’s someone’s birthday, he’ll go in everyone’s stocking, and he was taking a nap on the bunk bed in the dollhouse. The kids get a kick out of finding him in the morning when my husband or I remember to move him before we trudge up to bed.
We try to instill in our children that Christmas is not about getting but giving. So we always make a craft to give to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, and teachers. This year we made applesauce ornaments - so fun and messy, and they made the house smell delicious! A win-win for all! As we made them the kids and I talked about who we were making them for and which ones we thought people would enjoy hanging on their Christmas tree.
Growing up I always loved getting Christmas cookies from our neighbors, as well as helping my mom make cookies for them. So for the past two years I made apple bread, instead of cookies - then people can eat it for breakfast if they want! The two oldest kids and I delivered the bread on Sunday and they had a blast. It wasn’t too cold, they enjoyed ringing the doorbell and saying hi and Merry Christmas. Again here’s where I tried to have those meaningful conversations, "See how we’re GIVING right now? Look at how thankful our neighbors are when they receive a gift."
This year the kids are picking out a small gift for one another. Let me tell you, it’s hard for a 6, 5 and 2 year old to pick out a toy for someone else and not get one for themselves. They enjoyed looking at the toys, obviously, but when it was time to decide on a gift for their sibling it was more of a challenge when they realized they had to focus on someone else instead of themselves. There’s that GIVING again.
Overall we try to show by example and by what we’re choosing to do that Christmas is about giving not getting. There are things that I know we could do much, much better and some things that I know we’re starting to get better at. Each day is different and our family is trying it’s best to understand and show the love that Jesus gives to us.
Susie Battey is happily married to her college sweetheart. Together they have five children, one in Heaven and four more who are cute as can be. A second grade teacher, Susie loves spending time with her family, reading, or sneaking in a nap. She also happens to be one of the nicest, most sincere people I've ever met.
For more posts on Advent traditions and reflections check out the Advent series.
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