As the Christmas season approaches, it is easy to get swept up in the commercialism that tells us Christmas begins on Black Friday. But Advent-centered traditions are a simple way to differentiate between the two seasons. Traditions can help us embrace what this season truly means and allow us to consider ways to enter into careful preparation for the birth of the Christ Child with our families.
While hanging stockings, consider hanging one for Jesus so family members can place “gifts” in the stocking for Him. These can be commitments made on a notecard offering to give up desserts during the week or promising to do one extra chore for another family member. Advent can be as much of a time for fasting and almsgiving as the season of Lent — after all, both seasons prepare our hearts for a great feast of the Church.
Need more ideas? Create a manger bed for Jesus. For every good deed that a member of your family performs, place some straw in a small manger displayed somewhere prominently in your home. By Christmas, there will be a fitting bed in which the Christ Child can be placed. Or consider participating in a gift outreach and make the shopping experience for that gift a family outing. By focusing on the person who will receive the gift, you will help make the act of shopping more meaningful.
While there are many activities to help prepare our hearts for the Christmas celebration, nothing centers us more securely in this season of Advent than participating in the liturgy. Bring your family to experience the Festival of the Nativity, celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation at our Advent Penance Service, attend our Advent Prayer Service, set aside time to pray as a family weekly or daily or take part in service opportunities organized by our parish ministries. As a family, spend time with the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration, reminding your children that the Christ Who dwells there in the monstrance is the same Christ Who came to this world as a baby — for it will be there in the presence of Christ that we can truly sing, with hearts ready to receive Him, “Oh come let us adore Him, oh come let us adore Him.”