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The Advent Season is all about reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes on the message of hope that Christ’s birth brings. In today’s busy world it is even more crucial that we make time to pause this year and help those around us to be present to its true meaning. Advent is a time for faith, communities and families to remember, through prayer, reflections, special rituals, and good deeds about the meaning of the special gift God bestowed on us.
So, what can we do this Advent to be mindful of why we celebrate Christmas?
There are of course the traditional ways with Advent wreaths, setting up the Nativity Scene in your home, celebrating feast days and saints and of course participating in local charity events. However, I’d like to share a few ideas that may help you think outside of the “gift” box this year and begin some new Advent traditions that will shine light on this beautiful season!
An Advent Tree– Many of us can’t wait to set up your Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, then take it down on New Year’s Day. This year, consider waiting to fully decorate your tree until Christmas Eve. Instead, let your bare tree be an “Advent Tree,” a symbol of our waiting for the coming of Christ. Your tree does not need to stay bare for the four weeks. You may consider adding a strand of lights each week or adding few ornaments a week while reflecting on the four weeks of Advent; hope, peace, joy, and love. You may also want to incorporate a gift-chain. Then on Christmas eve, add all remaining decorations and celebrate through the Epiphany.
A Gift Chain- During Advent focus on doing acts of charity and kindness for other. Create a “gift-chain” by adding pre-cut strips of colored paper to a chain daily. Write or draw what special gift you offered up on the strip of paper before adding it to the chain. Some ideas… call a person who is alone, visit an elderly or ill person, send a card to someone, or donate hand-made cards to a local charity, bake some cookies or make a batch of soup for a neighbor, your parish priest, or first responder. Say a rosary or
spend time in adoration offering it up for a special intention. You can use different colors to represent different types of charity and kind acts.
Lastly, consider a reverse Advent Calendar. Instead of opening a window to take something each day, this Advent encourage giving. On a calendar write a Scripture verse and a common item needed by a local charity or individual, one item for each day of Advent. Decorate a box or bag to collect the items.
Each day read and reflect on the Scripture verse, pray for those who have such basic needs, and put the item indicated on the calendar in the box or bag. Immediately after Christmas, gather the collected items and donate.
As you consider how you and your family will spend Advent, be patient as Mary was and prepare your heart for Jesus!
Download the Advent Reverse Calendar for you and your family!