November 17, 2011

Advent and Christmas Preparation

In preparation for Advent I thought I'd share some of the things we do and resources.... 
First this is a very busy time of year for just about everyone.  So to help me, I make a simple chart/calendar, type everything in and hang it up. Yes, one could use a calendar, but there is just so much, this is much easier for me.  Yes, if you want to see mine you may email me.

Our fun Advent *thing* is to set up our Fontanini Nativity.  We received the initial set as a wedding gift and have added to it every year. Being that this is our 16th Christmas, you can imagine the set has grown.  The 1st Sunday of Advent we put up the villiage (well the day before I suppose) and each day of Advent we put up some pieces. 
O Night Divine - Suggestions for celebrating Advent and Christmas, Prayers and just about everything (check out all the linkies along the side bars!)
Catholic Cuisine - Many Feast Day food suggestions and ways to celebrate, if you look off to the left you can view Advent/Christmas. 

Must-Have Book: Christmas Mosaic - picture book study for Advent and Christmas (the publisher is my cousin's wife and a beautiful, beautiful soul!), through the use with picture books like Tomie de Paulo.

ADVENT - Remember Advent is a *penitential season* of the Church year.  Children should be making daily sacrifices. Unlike Lent when the penitential season which has death as it's end followed by resurrection, Advent has birth... life... as it's end, so Advent contains a joyful anticipation.  The children can come up with sacrifices for every day or, like I do, we try to tighten up the loose ends.  Where have we slacked a little?  Are the children eating all their food with joy?  Are we remembering all our prayers and spiritual reading?  Are we remembering the daily Rosary. 
Other ideas for hands on activities:  Jesse Tree, Advent Cubes, Sacrifice Paper Chain, Tomie da Paulo Advent (email me for document), O Antiphon (email me for document), Advent Wreath Coloring Page (email me for document), Advent Faith Folder, 12 Days of Christmas Faith Folder, and lots and lots more.  Please email me your ideas!

Nov 30: St. Andrew (Start Christmas Novena)
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen

Dec 3: Feast of St. Francis Xavier (CCC Video)
Dec 6: St. Nicholas Day: We put up our stockings the night before and put in chocolate gold coins and a little gift or treat, candy canes
CCC Video Boy Who Became Santa
Dress St. Nicholas Coloring Page
St. Nicholas Center there are fun links and fun stuff you can buy from napkins to stickers to cut outs for cookies

(after St. Nicholas Day the kids start filling the stockings for Christmas with gifts and funsies for each other, anything from sacrifices to prayers offered to pictures to little toy exchanges...)

Dec 7: St. Ambrose Feast Day (Honey-tongued Doctor of the Church: honey recipes, bees)
Dec 8: Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation) (White Foods, Angel Food Cake, Blueberry recipes (blue for Our Lady)
Dec 9: St. Juan Diego (see Dec 12)
Dec 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican, piñata)
Dec 13: St. Lucy Day (Cinnamon buns, dress up a girl as St. Lucy to present cinnamon buns... or a doll in our case)
Dec 16: Las Posadas (Novena (9 days) before Christmas) - Expectancy of the Blessed Mother

Dec 17-23: O Antiphons (or email me for document)

Dec 24: Christmas Eve
Dec 25: Christmas Day - Birth of Our Lord (Holy Day of Obligation)
This is the day devoted to Jesus
Stockings with gifts from each other and some other small gift

Having 11 children means a multitude of gifts from a multitude of generous souls.  Do the math...  So, gifts from family and friends are divided up and opened on various days during the 12 days. I make a calendar/chart to keep track of everything we do from The week of Thanksgiving to Epiphany with what to open when, what to celebrate when. If there is not a gift on a given day we make cookies, have a field trip,... be creative.  I think this year I might make a "Mom gets a nap day".

Feast of the 3 types of Martyrs (I love martyrs so these are 3 of my favorite days):
Dec 26: St. Stephen (first martyr by blood) - Wind down New Movie day and popcorn (family tradition)
Dec 27: St. John the Apostle (white martyrdom)
Dec 28: Holy Innocents (innocent martyrs)

Jan 1: Octave of Nativity, Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Circumcision of Our Lord (Holy Day of Obligation)
Jan 2: Holy Name of Jesus (Traditional date) If you would like a copy of the Litany of the Holy Name email me.
Jan 6: Epiphany - Epiphany Blessing (scroll down for 1 page download) 
Gifts from parents (some do 3 gifts per child like the 3 kings) I give the gift of a Mass for each person in our family and then we try to do as many "group" type gifts as we can (read: we don't need any more *stuff*) but sometimes there is something special for a particular child.

Of course most of that is for the children (though I do benefit from it).  So what do I do?  In addition to what I already do (spiritual reading and my personal prayers and such), I have 2 books "Advent and Christmas"  one is "wisdom from Padre Pio" and the other is "wisdom from St. Francis of Assisi".  Each day has a quote, prayer, action and blessing for each day.  I also work on something that I need to improve on  within my soul (which is really quite a lengthy list.) and make some kind of personal sacrifices for self-discipline.


  1. Wow! This is SO beautiful! I wish I could be your cousin and just come and sit in a corner and watch it all. Or better yet lend a helping hand where needed and yet somehow remain invisible so as not to spoil the family dynamics (-: I think Our Lord will be very pleased to be born in your home!

  2. Oh... we won't do anywhere near all that, it's a conglomeration of many, many years. You might flee in terror at the family dynamics! Always lots and lots of improvement to do both interiorly and exteriorly.

  3. JULIE!!!!
    I am so inspired by your devotions, sacrafices and commitment!!! God keeps Blessing you abundantly!!!!!
    I am so fortunate to call you my friend!
    I, too, was thinking how I would absolutely love to shadow you!!!
    Big, BIG hugs :-)