How to Advent, in three steps

Advent is less than two weeks away . . . are you ready, TO WAIT?

Advent is a beautiful time of year. But for those of us attempting to live the liturgical year in our homes (at least a bit) it can be a tricky season to get right. Sometimes it feels like whatever we are doing is somehow not enough and too much all at the same time.

A couple years back, I detailed EXACTLY what we do for Advent in our home:

Advent: How We Try to Celebrate Things in Their Proper Season Without Feeling Like Total Jerks

But exactly how we do it might not work for you. So this year, I want to share the ideas behind our traditions, so hopefully you can find a way to make Advent work in your family, and also let you know about some really great resources, that just might help make it happen.

1. Don't Christmas Yet

This is the key, I think. However you handle Advent in your home, it should feel different than Christmas. For us, we have different decorations for Advent, and we have different music, and we avoid specifically Christmas TV and movies and treats.

We have family traditions that are unique to Advent and different than Christmas, that way, we're not sick of Christmas before it's even arrived.

It's all very counter-cultural, but my kids are on board. We make sure they understand that even though almost everyone else is doing Christmas now, TIERNEYS wait until Christmas actually arrives to do Christmas. This is because TIERNEYS respect the natural order of things and are awesome.

2. Pray and Prepare

Advent isn't Lent, but it really is like Lent in a lot of ways. It should feel like a time of preparation. Many of us will be preparing our homes to receive guests at Christmas, which is a great way to focus, but even if no one is coming over, Advent is a great time for sprucing up the house.

More importantly, it's a great time for focusing on adding a bit more prayer to your family's daily routine.

The Christmas Anticipation Prayer, or St. Andrew's Prayer, is traditionally recited fifteen times per day from the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30th, until Christmas.
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 the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, 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.

Our family does a Christmas Novena. Many families do a Jesse Tree.

Maybe you're just starting out with family prayer. Advent would be a great time to just try adding an Our Father to your bedtime routine. AND maybe one Christmas Anticipation Prayer? That "in the piercing cold" part always makes me shiver.

3. Have a Plan, and Be Flexible

Real life very often gets in the way of liturgical living. And real life is particularly invasive around the holidays. Party invitations, extra work and school commitments, out of town visitors, or out of town visiting, can all throw a wrench in our best intentions for a calm and recollected Advent.

If you're traveling and staying with family, and scheduling and traditions aren't yours to set, it really might not be possible to avoid a full on Christmas blitz before the big day arrives.

And that's okay.

We have lots of family traditions and set plans for how we'll observe Advent. I know we won't always get to all of them every day or even every year, but they are still worth having and trying. Even a little Advent is better than none at all.

And when we are in someone else's home, we just focus on being gracious guests. I'm pretty sure that's how Mary would handle it.

Now, here are a few resources to help you live a prayerful Advent in your home. And because it's the season of giving, I get to give one of each away to you guys. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me something you plan to do in your home for Advent, and which of these resources might be useful to you.

1. Light for the World: A Catholic Kid's Guide to Advent and Christmas

Written and illustrated for your entire family, this softcover book explains Catholic traditions and feast days that we celebrate throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. For the rest of the year, there's Gifts From Our Father, a guide for families through the liturgical year, great for couples figuring out how to teach their children about the faith, the Saints and how to pray.

2. Waiting in the Word: a Mother's Advent Journey

Nell, Whole Parenting Family, Laura, Mothering Spirit, and Nancy, Do Small Things with Love, have come together to make this great bundle: a Scripture study, a companion journal, and a lectio devina bookmark you can keep in your Bible.

Here's the gist of the study:
Each week of Advent tackles a different comment challenge we face this time of year: Materialism, Loneliness, Fear and Despair. It is our hope that through this study and the Holy Scripture, God will show you a better way and move your heart to Generosity, Communion, Love and Joy.

They even have a Facebook group you can join to walk through the season with other moms.

You can purchase this great Advent collection of goodness by clicking through to here.

3. Maple Leaf Liturgical Living Planner

Thirteen months will get you from this Advent straight through to the next!

- monthly view includes Catholic liturgical year feasts and seasonal dates as determined by the USCCB
- weekly view includes scripture readings for Sundays and holy days of obligation under the Roman Rite Catholic Church
- weekly view includes psalm quotes for each week from that Sunday's psalm reading

4. Blessed is She Advent 2015 Journal **Digital Download**

In our Advent 2015 Reflection + Journal, we give you the daily readings listed out, reflections by Audrey Assad, and space for you to journal to truly make it your own.
Prepare the way this season.

5. The Nativity Characters in Cross Stitch

I've shared Nancy's cross stitch patterns before, and I love them all. This one comes as a single PDF. All 10 characters are on the same pattern, but you could easily split this up and create several different round ornaments for your Christmas tree–one with the Holy Family, one of the Shepherds, one of the kings and one for each angel. There are lots of possibilities here.
You can probably see it in the image above, but there is an inscription at the bottom of this pattern. It is Luke 2:11 and read, “Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

You can get it HERE for $3.

6. Jesse Tree 3-D Printable Ornaments e-book

This digital book contains everything you need to add the Jesse Tree to your own family’s Advent- just add the tree! Included are a brief description and history of the Jesse Tree, supplies list, Bible readings for each day, and 24 3-D printable Jesse Tree ornaments- one for each day of December leading up to Christmas (in B&W and digitally colored versions)!

For each day there is a two page spread containing the title of the person/event, their symbol, a difficulty rating for the craft activity, an approximate amount of time to assemble, the Bible reading for that day and step by step instructions for assembling your 3-D ornament.
Use the coupon code catholicallyear to get 30% off anything in the shop through December 31st!

7. Nativity Advent Calendar to Print and Color

I’m so excited about this project because is something my (and your) family can enjoy without hours of laborious crafting. That’s right, print it, color it and either set it all up as a full Nativity set right away or add one piece each day of Advent.
You can get the entire 24 page PDF ready to be printed and colored HERE for $5.

8. Our Family's Jesse Tree: 25 Jesse Tree Ornaments with Templates, Devotions, and Printable Activities

This printable eBook contains over 80 pages of detailed ornament templates, daily scripture readings (with links to full text), devotions, coloring pages, and family-friendly activities inspired by the scripture to help your family count down the days of Advent in a spiritual way. At the end of the book you'll find instructions with photos on how to create the felt tree.

9. Couples Advent Devotional

Advent is a time for preparation, this advent take time as a couple to reflect on the daily gospel readings. This devotional offers you daily reflections, contemplations, and prayers for every day of advent. Begin a journey of praying as a couple, and enrich your faith life this advent.

10. Printable Prayers Advent

I've gotten requests to make some Advent printables, so here ya go . . .

It's good advice for kids, and grownups too. On white. Or red.

The Christmas Anticipation Prayer. If you're going to say it fifteen times a day, it might as well be nice to look at, right? In red. Or purple.

O come, o come Emmanuel. It's what Advent is all about. On chalkboard. Or white.

Whew! That's all of it. Please leave a comment sharing something you plan to do to keep Advent this year, and which (any or all) of these Advent resources would help you do it. Winners will be announced ON THE BLOG on Friday.

You might also enjoy . . .

Our Favorite Family Read-Alouds for Advent

Keeping Advent: Our Family's Traditions