I'm super excited for Advent. I know we still got a few weeks, but just as it's good to prepare for Christmas I think it's also good to prepare well for Advent. Kevin and I have been having many conversations about how we want the liturgical year to look for our family - it's one of our favorite activities. And we've been focusing on Advent and how we want to live the season as a married couple.
First off, if you want some good ideas on liturgical living, you should check out the book, The Little Oratory, and also head over to Carrots for Michaelmas as Haley writes about it a fair amount.
Like most people, I've spent many years celebrating the "Christmas season" from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years. Only in the past few years have I begun to appreciate the penitential aspect of Advent . And though it's penitential, it's also not a sorrowful season. Rather it's one of joyful and quiet longing as we wait for the Incarnation of our Savior.
I'm far from perfect when it comes to liturgical living, and it's certainly an effort to quiet myself amidst all the excitement. So I've slowly tried to take active steps in really living the true season of Advent, and here are a few things that have been really fruitful for me:
+ December 8th, the Immaculate Conception, is me and Kevin's Marian Consecration date - we renew it each year. It's a good way to prepare the heart for Advent and develop a deeper relationship with our Blessed Mother, the one through whom our Lord came into the world. To learn more about this, read here.
+ I'm terrible at fasting, but fasting is objectively good and a necessary part of our Christian life. We should try to incorporate some type of fasting into the season, but how we do it is up to us - there's many good ways to go about this. One cool side note: there's a company out here, LaVallee's Breads (owned by a Catholic) and part of their business is fasting breads, which you can order online. Read more here!
+ Frequent the sacraments.
+ We like to take part in Advent activities going on. For instance, there's an annual Lessons & Carols Concert at St. John's Seminary that we've attended the last few years and it is beautiful!! The seminary does such a wonderful job putting this on and it really puts you in spirit of Advent.
+ Pick up a good book for Advent; last year I read Pope Benedict's "The Infancy Narratives"; it was a beautiful read that drew me into to the season.
+ Avoid Christmas music to the extent I can (which is easier for me since I don't have a car). I prefer to listen to Enya's "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel" on repeat, but that's just me.
Kevin and I hope to continue all of that this year, but we hope to be even more intentional with the season beyond those things that have become tradition. Some examples of things we've read that have really resonated with us:
+ We will get a Christmas tree, but will leave the festive decorating until the Christmas season. The rest of our apartment will follow suit as well.
+ I'll attempt to simplify the cooking and leave the Christmas treats for Christmas (I may make some occasional cookies, though...).
+ We've done most of our shopping for gifts/decorations beforehand so we don't get caught up in the stores during Advent.
By living a true Advent season, it makes the Christmas season even greater! Fast well, feast well! And what's even more amazing is that Christmas is not over on December 26th, but continues until the Baptism of our Lord! I've read that it's even appropriate to keep all the decorations up until the feast of the Presentation on February 2nd. Talk about exciting!
Anyone have any Advent traditions they'd like to share? What do you do to make it special? :)