Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ready or Not, Advent is Coming....

Believe it or not, Advent starts in just over 3 weeks.

I know. Take a deep breath. I just did. Actually, go ahead and take another. And another.

I don't have time for much more right now, so here's a repost from last year... ways to make Advent special without making yourself crazy. (I still end up crazy, but when you start out more than halfway there, as I do, it's not hard to get all the way to crazy by mid-December!)

Be at peace, my friends. Take deep breaths and remember: Advent comes once a year. What doesn't get done this year, can wait until next!


A little preparation now will ensure that your Advent really is about preparing to greet our Savior... and not preparing to lose your mind once again amidst the wrapping, the shopping, the baking, and the mailing.

1. Begin with a plan. December is a crazy month, filled to the brim. If you begin now, you can plan to include some special events, and to celebrate the special feasts. This is the time to mark off space in your calendar for the important family events: cutting down the Christmas tree, taking a Christmas portrait, caroling, attending a Tree Lighting Ceremony, visiting a light display, seeing a performance of "The Nutcracker," etc.

Take the time to think about what really matters to you and your spouse. Prioritize the events, activities and memories you want to make with your children. Then spend an evening online, locating dates and times, ordering tickets (if necessary), and plugging these activities into your family calendar.

2. Don't Forget Your Faith. December is chock full of special days to celebrate: St. Nicholas, St. Lucia, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Juan Diego. Some parishes pray a Christmas Novena or sing the O Antiphons. Opportunities to explore the richness of our faith abound during Advent.

Again, making a plan is key. Discuss which feasts will work for your family this year, put them on the calendar, and make note of any preparations you need to make in advance (ie, shoring up treats from St Nick or supplies for St Lucy's bread).

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember what this season is really about, and start planning your own Advent practice. Perhaps you will decide to spend 10 minutes every morning reading scripture. Or you'll add a Rosary to your morning commute. Maybe you want to try getting to daily mass one morning a week during Advent, or you need to (finally) get to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The time to consider your spiritual commitment to Advent is now. Give it some thought, some prayer. Don't try to make major changes during this already busy time, but do consider making some small change or addition to help keep your heart and mind focused on Christ this year.

4. Do NOT even try to do it all. You are hereby forbidden from attempting to do it all. You may not do every activity, craft, spiritual suggestion, and prayer practice that you see here (or anywhere else). This is not the year to make yourself crazy. That's the whole point of the plan: choose what sounds best for your family this year.

There's always next year to make the homemade gingerbread model of Notre Dame while singing "O Christmas Tree" in German with your five year old. Trust me. Next year, Advent will pop up right after Thanksgiving, and you are welcome to try it all then. This year, we are going to take it easy, make a plan, and keep our hearts rightly focused. Nothing else matters.

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