I am so excited for the new liturgical season to begin! There have been many exciting “first” moments in our new house already – our first Halloween, Jonathan’s birthday, our housewarming party, hosting Thanksgiving lunch with immediate family. We will also be celebrating our first Christmas in the new house as a family of four. So exciting!
But, let’s not skip too far ahead just yet. I’m really looking forward to Advent first, the beautiful season of joyful hope and prayerful preparation that precedes Christ’s coming at Christmas.
The theme keyword for us this year is transition. I think that best sums it up. We have gone through many transitions, and thankfully now we are settled and unpacked in our new house. The final weeks of my pregnancy then Lucy’s birth happened at the tail-end of Lent and so as you can imagine that time period was a complete blur, and the months thereafter were nuts as we were still adjusting to a family of four. And eventually we made our first of two moves this year. Then we moved again four months later. As we are finally getting our bearings on set routines and patterns in House Perez, this A-type personality girl is relieved. I think this is why I’m so excited for Advent, I’m just so ready to renew my faith by celebrating this season as my spiritual life has not been at the forefront as it should. Transitions are hard, man.
Advent is the start of the new liturgical calendar, so in other words, the First Sunday of Advent is celebrating a new year for the Church. Just as anyone would typically reflect on resolutions and goals to attain prior to the imminent new year, I have been spending the quiet evenings after the kids are asleep, trying to figure out what we can do as a family and for myself as well. I’m a planner – we have established that, right? So of course I created a full-on Advent and Christmas season calendar, outlining what I hope we can do, reflect on, and pray together as a family. (Side bar: I created and shared with Jon an extensive calendar on Google Sheets with liturgical colors and everything…and I’m so proud of it HAHA. I’m such a nerd, my goodness.)
Throughout this process, a question I asked myself each time was, “how is this allowing room in our hearts for the Christchild?” Asking this shaped the rest of the calendar into what it is and that is why I am really looking forward to it. Now it’s just a matter of remembering that question as we are doing, reflecting on, and praying these things.
A friend had asked if I could share some of the ideas I have been planning. Fittingly, I was already contemplating posting some of those things on here. A little background: I did what I could to mix and balance family activities and personal challenges. I also got some ideas from local events, parish events, and opportunities through the Archdiocese of Washington and Diocese of Arlington. So in addition to our Advent wreath and Jesse tree short & sweet daily prayers at dinner time, here are some ideas we will hopefully be participating in this year. It’s a fun mix of prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and even some cultural customs.
- Create paper snowflakes together to hang all around the house and reflect on the lyrics of “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad.
- Gather coats and sweaters to donate to Catholic Charities (by way of our parish).
- Serve Christmas dinner at Christ House in Alexandria.
- Bake batches of cookies for two new families moving in, in front of us.
- Fast from using the dishwasher and microwave as a way to grow in patience (albeit difficult sometimes as these are conveniences for us…so our realistic goal is to do this on given days, not every day!).
- Read Tale of Three Trees on the Feast of St. John of the Cross.
- Attend an Advent Penance Service as a family.
- Attend the Visit of St. Nicholas event at the St. John Paul II Shrine.
- Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a Mexican dinner feast. It even falls on Taco Tuesday… umm, perfect!
- Fast from using the elevator. And think of the Magi and shepherds on their arduous route to Bethlehem if I start complaining.
- Bake St. Lucy braided bread on her feast day. (Happy feast day, Lu!)
- Go to ZooLights or any place with lots of lights as a way to reflect on Christ’s light in the darkness.
- Have a family movie night watching It’s A Wonderful Life with some popcorn + hot cocoa. (But this might look more like Fatima + Jonathan movie night as the kids may be knocked out…)
- Attend at least one Simbang Gabi Mass.
- Pray for the unborn on the Feast of the Holy Innocents and box up baby items and clothes we no longer need for donation to HOPE in Northern VA
Well there you go, a snapshot of our calendar. Whether or not we are able to accomplish most of these, I believe ultimately it goes back to the challenge: am I making room in my heart for the Christchild? If we complete ten, five, or even just one of these, and there is even more room for Christ to enter into our lives, I’d say that’s a solid Advent in preparation for His coming at Christmas. Can I get an Amen?
Locals – feel free to join us for any of these if you so desire. ;) And to everyone, you’re certainly welcome to share any traditions or ideas you may you have for yourself or your family! It’s always so neat and inspiring to see what others are doing as we are all striving for the same end-goal.
Happy Advent planning, a blessed Advent season!
P.S. I wanted to do a lot of handmade things from crafts I have (because they are cost-effective), but since I don’t have the time that I need it’s nice to have other moms create resources we can use. The Advent calendar prayer cards we are using are from RedBirdBlue blog. Download and print them here.