Simple upgrades for the season of Advent and Christmas
Simple Advent Upgrades
No, the “Christmas Season” isn’t the days starting with Black Friday and ending with Christmas. This period of time is called Advent. It is a time for us to prepare a room for Jesus in our hearts. It is a time to look forward to the second coming of Jesus by looking back at his birth. It is a reminder for us that the Holy Family had struggles just like we do: trying to accept God’s will, trying to obey the ‘kings’ of this world, trying to provide for our families and keep them safe. Advent is a growing light from the darkness. Here are a few simple ways to look forward to the birth of our King of kings.
- Use an Advent wreath – The proper order to light them is Purple – Purple – Rose – Purple
- Join an Advent study group or do an online study – This one is great! Pray More Novenas Advent Retreat
- Put up your Christmas tree and decorate for Christmas – nothing will get you in the mood more than Christmas lights.
- Celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception on December 8th – this is Mary’s Conception where she was conceived without original sin.
- Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th – She is the patroness of the Americas and a beautiful reminder that Mary crushes the serpents head.
- Use an Advent calendar to help countdown the days till Christmas
- Purchase modest gifts to give to children, family and friends. Remember, Jesus only received three gifts, your children doesn’t need huge numbers of gifts at a cost of hundreds of dollars that you almost have to take loans out for. Children will always ask for everything, be the adult and know what is right for them.
- It’s ok for them to also believe in Santa – He was a real person, St. Nicholas. But here again, the real St. Nick gave the dowry so that the widower’s daughters could get married, just enough. He doesn’t need to bring an unlimited number of gifts. Friends of mine would give three gifts to each child: something to wear, something to play, something to read. (and candy, of course).
- Go to Mass – there is no Church without the people, that is the true Church, not the building. **For times with sickness: if you are unable to go to Mass because of illness or mandates, find a Mass online and participate just as you were there. There are mobile apps which show the readings or go to https://bible.usccb.org/. Check out this site for a list of streaming Masses throughout the world! When we were in quarantine, we visited a Cathedral in Australia!
- Open the Bible – While we will only read one of the Nativity stories at Christmas, read all of them leading up to Christmas. Each one brings different details surrounding Jesus’ birth.
- Go to Reconciliation – We are called to go to confess our sins monthly, but at a minimum, once a year before/during Easter. Since 2020 was shut down during Lent and many of us were unable to go to confession (or even Easter Mass other than online), therefore many did not go to Reconciliation this year. Take advantage of this time and clean out your sins to make room for Jesus.
Simple Christmas Upgrades
No, it is not the season of returns and clearance discounts. From Christmas on December 25th until the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated January 10, 2021 is the actual season of Christmas. During this time we also celebrate the Holy Family, the Holy Innocents martyred, Mary, Mother of God, the Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus.
- Go to Mass – Easter is actually the holiest day of the year, Jesus’ Resurrection (by the way, did you know every Sunday is a Holy day of Obligation? Yep, that’s why we are called to go to Mass weekly and not just be a CEO – Christmas/Easter Only Catholic), but Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior. If you’ve been a CEO, make a resolution to go to weekly Mass starting now. Every Mass will give you grace to go through your week.
- Sing Happy Birthday to Jesus – while opening gifts is fun, seeing what Santa brought, and eating Christmas cookies until your ill happens at our Christmas celebrations, remember to also with Jesus a Happy Birthday! Make a production of it too! We would carry an infant Jesus in a procession while singing. Everyone loves a birthday party.
- Celebrate January 1, Mary, Mother of God (Holy day of obligation). This remembers that Mary is our Queen and the mother of God. Just as many mothers, after the baby is born, the mother is forgotten (Just kidding). Mary’s fiat, her ‘Yes’, gave us the Son of Man and the Son of God. She was born without sin, and kept from sin, even though she was 100% human and had free will just like us. She is our perfect model of a saint and who we want to be, yet she fully understands how difficult life is because she was not spared a difficult life.
- Bring gifts for the Epiphany – our parish has us bring baby items – diapers, clothes, blankets, bottles, formula – to donate to our local pregnancy center. If your parish doesn’t do this, maybe suggested it to the pastor, or ask friends and family to gather items to donate yourselves. This is our way to help those babies born today in ‘swaddling clothes’.
- Surprise someone with the 12 days of Christmas gifts – a friend told our Alpha group of a tradition she started to surprise someone special to honor them during the 12 days of Christmas. For each day, going along with the song, she would come up with small gifts that went along with the items of the day. When I get more information of what she does each day, I’ll write another post.