If you’ve been following along with our liturgical living journey this year or you caught my recent blog post on Blessed Is She about Advent, you know that I’ve been eagerly anticipating this season in more ways than one. Even though Advent is, by its very nature, a season of waiting and preparation, it also feels a bit like a culmination of all I’ve learned this year (especially since Advent is where I went so very wrong last year). I’m excited that we have already put a few of our Advent plans in motion and Dave and I agree that even these little, simple things have made a difference in our hearts. Before we get too far into Advent, I’d love to share what we’re doing! (Please also consider this an abbreviated “simple celebrations for feast days” post, since I’m sharing a few we’re celebrating below.)
Praying special devotionals each morning. I chose the Blessed Is She Advent journal and Dave ordered Bishop Barron’s Advent reflections book (it doesn’t seem the book is available anymore, but you can sign up for daily emails of the exact same reflections here). Starting the day praying and journaling with guidance specifically designed for this season has already been so impactful. It’s not too late to grab a devotional if you don’t have one! Or, simply choose an appropriate book (like Pope Emeritus Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives) to read a few pages of each morning.
Praying the St. Andrew novena. St. Andrew is one of Dave’s patrons (Andrew is his middle name) and he’s a saint I’ve truly come to love this year. Dave and I chose three specific intentions to offer up through this novena, which consists of a simple, but profound prayer, prayed 15 times per day from St. Andrew’s feast day (November 30) till Christmas. I made this image of the prayer my phone background as a reminder!
Reading a scripture verse and lighting our Advent candle(s) before dinner. I ordered these gorgeous cards (they’ve been sitting in my Etsy cart all year!) and each evening, we’ve been reading the verse on the card and then lighting our Advent candle so it can burn while we’re gathered around the table. I’m using mini clothespins to pin the completed cards to a ribbon in our dining nook, so we’re always reminded to do them.
Decorating in a special way. One major way we’re distinguishing between Advent and Christmas in our house in decorating in a special way for each season. For us, an effective visual reminder was decorating with greenery and metallic details for right now, saving anything red or distinctly “Christmas-y” (Nutcrackers, stockings, etc.) for Christmas Eve. We won’t be home for Christmas, so this will be a lot more fun in future years–I admit I am a little sad we’ll miss our Christmas decorations for most of the Christmas season, simply due to our travel schedule. That said, I think this visual reminder has already been more impactful to me personally than doing things like waiting to listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies (both things we aren’t personally doing for our observation of Advent), so I know it will be worth it. Our house is so cozy and twinkly right now, and I love that! :)
Celebrating feast days. Here’s what we’re planning!
St. Nicholas (12/6): We’ll set shoes in front of the fireplace with Charlie the night before and then add a few treats for him to find in the morning! We’ve actually done this every year since he was born, mainly for the cuteness of seeing his tiny shoes out :) This is the first year he’ll actually get it, so I’m excited about that. We’ll also watch the Nicholas video on Formed as a family. P.S. More great ideas on Blessed Is She here.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (12/8): This is a holy day of obligation, so priority number one is going to Mass. I also want to make a point to pray the “O Mary, conceived without sin” prayer, so I’ll wear a Miraculous Medal necklace as a reminder to pray it throughout the day. As a special treat, Moravian spice cookies are traditional to this feast day, so if I’m feeling ambitious, we might make some (similar) gingerbread cookies, cut into stars.
Our Lady of Guadalupe (12/12): We’ll attend the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe procession at our church the weekend before–it is always so beautiful! I’d love to attend a Spanish Mass to join our local Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters in celebrating this meaningful day if we can. On a lighter note, I’ll pick up some roses for a centerpiece (in honor of the ones that filled St. Juan Diego’s tilma where the image appeared) and we’ll make Mexican food for dinner :)
St. Lucy (12/13): Dave and I didn’t grow up eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, but adopted the tradition for the “family Christmas” we’ve done at home over the last two years before traveling for actual Christmas. Since we won’t be doing that this year (it definitely contributed to our Christmas burnout by the time Christmas actually arrived), we’re moving our beloved new cinnamon roll tradition to St. Lucy’s feast day! In case all you know about this day is from the Kirsten books (anyone? ;)), you can learn more here. It’s sure to be a fun one! P.S. We’ve made this cinnamon roll recipe the last two years, but want to find a dairy-free version for this year so Charlie can enjoy them too. If you have any recommendations, let me know!
What are you doing to celebrate Advent this year? I’d love to hear!