Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Advent Traditions

I am going to post parts of a talk I gave at our church women's retreat a few years back on celebrating Advent with your children. While some of this is a bit late, there are many things you can still implement, and you can use this Advent to prepare certain projects for next year.

1. Make the 15th an event. (I realize this one is a bit late, but perhaps something to think about for next year - you know the rule, "live first, blog later!") Unlike the beginning of Great Lent, which is marked by several weeks of preparation and a week full of services, the beginning of Advent has no special service, and can get lost in the chaos of school and Thanksgiving Day preparations. So take this day to establish a family routine for the rest of the season. If you do not have a family altar already, set one up - an area where your family can come together for prayers, lighting candles and Advent readings. If you have a piece of furniture, shelf or table, drape it with a special cloth. I have purchased table runners which we change out according to the liturgical seasons, so the colors match the altar cloth and priests vestments of the Church. Wal M*rt is a great source for cheap table runners in lots of colors, especially this time of year. Place your Advent wreath here, prayer book, Bible and list of readings for the season.

2. The 15th is also the day in our house when I pull out the Christmas tree (well trees really, we have 3!) and set up the lights, and the kids all help decorate the tree. Then it is ready for all of our Advent books to be tucked underneath (due to allergies we use artifical trees, which makes it possible to decorate this early - and for me, to enjoy the beauty of Christmas for 2 months is something I look forward to every year - our tree does not come down until Theophany). Another idea for the tree if you don't care to deal with it before Thanksgiving, is to follow Erin's lead and set it up on December 13th in honor of St. Herman. This would be perfect timing for those who use a real tree.

3. Keep certain things special just for Advent. Many years ago the crocodile hunter's godmother sent him one of the Playm*bil Nativity sets. That has been such a treasure to my kids, and last year I got a second one for the little princess. The set is boxed up, and does not come down until November 15th. The kids get so excited about playing with it, as I begin taking decorations out they all start asking, can you get the Nativity set out for us? They often spend most of the next few days with just that toy. Again, it goes back in the box on January 6th in spite of protests to leave it out just a little longer, so they can look forward to it again next Advent. As I already posted, we do the same with Nativity books, and I follow this rule with Christmas music and a few classic Christmas movies on DVD I allow them to watch. The air of anticipation this creates is amazing, and it makes these things all the more special for those two months. It also means that they tend to spend much of their free time reading those stories, or playing with the Nativity set, a wonderful way to help the kids remain focused on the Church and Christ's birth in a world where most kids can think of nothing but what "Santa" will bring them.

Well, there are a few ideas to get you started. Hopefully they will inspire you to create things in your home that are not only "hidden art", but will become treasured memories for your children and help them to walk daily in the life of the Church. I will follow with more on the Jesse tree and Advent calendar ideas, and our special St. Nicholas traditions.

1 comment:

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

Thanks for the prompts! Not being Orthodox, our traditions are a bit different, but we still celebrate advent. With Thanksgiving being so late this year, I need to start thinking ahead!
I guess I won't be putting chocolate coins in shoes for St.Nicholas Day, thanks to the candy recall... any ideas?