December 10, 2012

Advent in Our Home by Grete Veliz

Hello Knotted Life readers.  Let me start with a quick introduction.  I’m Grete, my husband is Mark, and we have been married for 8 years. We live in Illinois with our three daughters, who are 7-,5-, and 3-years old and our son, 21 months old, and a baby due to be born in March. 

We keep things simple at our house during Advent.  We have an advent wreath (from Hobby Lobby) that we display on our dining room table. We let the children take turns lighting the candles before dinner on the Sundays of Advent.

This year we’ll probably light them for dinner for most of the rest of the days of Advent. I got smarter this year and bought bigger candles that will, hopefully, last long enough for us to light them daily. I love having the candles lit during dinner, but we often have to blow them out soon after we light them- little girls, long hair and candles…fire hazard. We also say the prayer for the week from The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children's Faith Formation. (I have found several simple suggestions for celebrating the faith in that book.) This year we also want to sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel before dinner; at least on Sundays if we can’t manage to do it every day. Though, our kids love to sing, so they likely won’t let us forget.

We set up our nativity sets (including a set made of resin that the kids can play with), making sure to keep the precious baby Jesus out of sight until Christmas Eve. This is just to remind us that in Advent we are preparing for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas. In fact, last year I overheard our daughter explaining this to a friend- that we are waiting for Christmas to put Jesus in the manger. I love the time of preparation, the readings about Christ’s coming, the anticipation. Then putting the baby Jesus figure in the manager can be a ceremony, not just putting up a decoration.
We were waiting for Him and He came, just as He promised. What a moment for reflection and teaching. I feel like we are swimming upstream on this one (the waiting, I mean)…I want us, as a family, to all learn to wait.
Before Advent started our daughter lamented to me that her classmates had already set up their Christmas trees at home and she wanted to put one up, too. And while I really feel like there is nothing wrong with enjoying the decorations of Christmas, we are trying to let the seasons in our home be led by the seasons of the Church. So, on the first Sunday of Advent we got out our wreath and nativity sets.

I try to incorporate a bit of purple into our very simple decorating. I really like the idea of bringing the liturgical colors into our home. Well, I like bringing the purple of lent and advent into our home... maybe I just like purple -we don’t have green during ordinary time. Anyway, we have a purple place mat where we set our nativity scene. 
Just last year we started the tradition of setting out our shoes for the Feast of St. Nicholas. Neither my husband nor I grew up with this tradition, but I think we’ll keep it. It is a great way to enjoy giving/receiving a small gift- the kids each got small candy canes and crayons. That simple thing is memorable and fun.

This isn’t related to a family tradition, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about feeling a connection to Mary during Advent. For the past several years, I’ve either been pregnant or nursing a baby during the Advent and Christmas seasons.  As a mother, I feel a great connection to Mary during this time. I like to think about her pregnant (and traveling!), waiting for His birth, holding baby Jesus, nursing Him, and loving Him. I am in awe of how much she much loved Him. I know how much a mother loves her children because I have been blessed to experience that love myself. And Mary’s sinless perfection made her mother’s love the most perfect.
Well, that’s it-the humble happenings of our home during Advent.  Have a Blessed Advent!
Grete Veliz is not a blogger- she doesn't even have a Facebook account!  She is an "in real life" friend of mine and someone I greatly admire.  I am often edified by Grete's faith and impressed by the simple ways she humbly lives it out and so I wanted to share her with the world.  Grete and her knight in shining armor (well, he's a Knight of Columbus) Mark are active in various ministries at their parish, where their two older children attend school.  Grete said, "I’m really excited to be a part of this series and look forward to reading about the traditions of other families."  I'm really excited, too, Grete!
For more posts on Advent traditions and reflections check out the Advent series.


  1. I like the idea of adding purple (and pink) to the decorations. I never thought of that before since everything is green and red. But, I bet if I look I could find some of those colors.

  2. There's something about candlelight from the Advent wreath that makes dinners so special during this season. Thanks for sharing your traditions for making Advent meaningful for your family.