First, I got the vast majority of my Christmas shopping done yesterday. It was all from the comfort of our home, online. There was no way I was venturing out into the Black Friday madness. Other than a few stocking stuffers, the gifts for our Angel Tree kid, and our Christmas cards, everything is ordered, paid for, and on its way. We'll pick our Angel Tree kid off the tree at church tomorrow and I'll buy our Christmas cards sometime this week. I won't mail them out until the 3rd week of Advent. It seems appropriate to wait until Gaudete Sunday to spread some joy around.
Having all of this done before Advent begins means we can focus on the season itself over the next four weeks. I set up our Advent table today.
It looks a little bare, but it will do. Next year, maybe I'll do a big Advent calendar. If I start working on it next month, I might have it done on time.
On the left is our Jesse Tree. I bought a lighted willow branch (from Amazon, of course) that runs off three AA batteries and just stuck it in an old flower vase filled with purple tissue paper. The branches were slightly smaller than I expected and the ornaments were a tad bit larger, so it may wind up looking ridiculous. We're going with it.
For the ornaments, I downloaded the annual Advent guide from Faith Magazine, published by the Diocese of Erie. The small ornaments are a 7-page PDF and I sent that to our local UPS store to be printed in color on card stock. I also printed out their Advent reflections from home. It's a really nice guide to the Jesse tree with an explanation of each night's ornament and the corresponding Bible reading. I used some colored glitter glue to add a little accent to each ornament and I'll just cut one out each day, punch a hole in the top and string it with ribbon. The reflections and first ornament are sitting on the table, ready to go.
We have our Advent calendar hanging on the wall. There is no candy in it. We have way too much from Halloween already. In fact, some of that Halloween candy will probably migrate to the kids' Christmas stockings. Don't tell them.
And, finally, we have our Advent... plaque? I'm not sure what to call it exactly. It's not a wreath. Matt and I bought it when Henry was a baby from the gift store at the cathedral in St. Augustine. The candles are in place and we still have the little pamphlet from the same gift store that has the weekly ceremony for each Sunday lighting.
Elsewhere, we have our Nativity scene stable set out with only a lonely cow inside. A shepherd is tending his little flock close by on the table. Tomorrow, we'll set Mary and Joseph and their donkey on our little altar in the kitchen. They'll begin their month-long journey to the stable from there. Each night, we'll move them a little closer until they arrive on Christmas Eve. The Wise Men stay in the box until Christmas Day when they begin their journey, arriving on the Epiphany. (They travel a lot faster because none of them are pregnant.)
Today, Henry and I are going to make a construction paper Advent wreath and candles to hang on the board in the schoolroom. Our other plans for Advent?
- December 6, 2011 - Feast of St. Nicholas: The night before, the kids will write their letters to the Christ Child and put them in their shoes at the foot of their beds. St. Nicholas will take their letters and leave a few gold coins in their shoes to let them know he came.
- December 8, 2011 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- December 13, 2011 - Feast of St. Lucy: We're going to attempt this Croatian custom of planting Christmas wheat this day. Wheat we have in plenty; we'll see if it grows in time for Christmas!
- December 17 - 24, 2011 - The O Antiphons: Each evening, we'll recite one of the O Antiphons, the seven Messianic titles of Christ.
- December 24, 2011 - Christmas Eve: This is when we'll go get our Christmas tree, decorate it and the house, and get ready to welcome in the Christmas season!
I've shared/linked up this post on RLS's Preparing for Baby Jesus Advent Link Up. You can check out what other families are doing for Advent by clicking on the button here: