After reading all the wonderful ideas that other people are doing for advent this year, I can't go on without writing what my family and I are doing this advent.
One advent tradition that I grew up with, was the Advent wreath. To me, Advent just wouldn't be the same with out the wreath. When I got married, it was the first thing we bought at the start of the Advent season. There's just something about the lighting of the candles after dinner every night and the gentle flicker of the flames that say, "Christ is near."
This year we are added the St. Andrew Novena to our Advent wreath lighting. The kids join us on the nights we have enough time to pray before their bedtimes. Although it seems like they don't get anything out of hearing my husband and I pray, they really are soaking it all in. The other night, as my four year old was bouncing around on the couch, he just started saying the entire St. Andrew prayer by heart! He prayed it twice before he stopped and went back to playing. This prayer has made me think more how the Blessed Mother felt on that night when Jesus was born. "In piercing cold, at midnight, in Bethlehem..." Off topic: my friend read a Christmas book to the coop class and the repeating line in the book was Mary saying to Jesus, "Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby." I think watching my own babies grow up makes me understand Mary's sacrifice more and more. The mothering instinct to protect and keep your children safe is so strong; it's more strong than I could have imagined before I had my own children. I can see now how much pain it caused Mary to know that her son would have to suffer so much.
I planned on doing the Jesse Tree this year. I even started planning how I was going to make the ornaments at the beginning of November! At first, I was trying to set up an ornament swap--that didn't work. Then I came up with an idea to put little pictures of the symbols into brooch settings. I ordered the settings from a dealer on Etsy about four weeks ago and they haven't arrived yet. I guess the Jesse Tree just wasn't meant to be this year.
One new thing we are doing this Advent is waiting to put the ornaments on the Christmas tree until Christmas day. We've always put them on right away along with all the other decorations in the house, but I wanted to save something for Christmas day to make it more special. I didn't anticipate how hard this would be for my son. He asks almost everyday when we can put the ornaments on the tree. I keep telling him, "When Jesus comes on Christmas."
These are the major things we do for Advent. Other little things like Christmas books, a Christmas felt board, and Christmas crafts also enhance our Advent season.