Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent 2013: How We Keep Christ in Christmas

small Keep Christ in Christmas

This post is part of the Keep Christ in Christmas Blog Link-Up
Be sure to visit as many links as possible, listed at the bottom of this post.

Advent Wreath Tradition 
Today, Dec. 1, 2013, marks the first day of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church with this first Sunday of Advent.  Did you know the word Advent is from the Latin word advenio, meaning "to come"?  It's hard to believe it is time to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth!  I truly think that one way to keep Christ in CHRISTmas is to embrace the Advent season with all its beauty and meanings.  
One of the first decorations we pull out is our  Advent wreath which we display in our kitchen.   After we eat dinner as a family we light the candle(s) depending on which week of Advent we are in.  So during the first week of Advent, we will be lighting one purple candle after we bless our wreath with a special prayer.

Here is a beautiful paragraph I found about the Advent wreath from "The History of the Advent Wreath" by Father William Saunders:

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to CHRISTmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

 Here's a cute song sung to the "Alphabet Song" that we sing while we are lighting the candles. I got this song from someone on the Catholic Homeschool Moms Facebook page:

This is a very simple Advent song we sing when we light our Advent candle(s) each night for prayers.

"Set the candles burning bright.

One by one each week we light.
Advent is a time to wait -
Not quite time to celebrate.
When the waiting time is through,
It's Christmas joy for me and you!

One year our homeschool group made kid-sized Advent wreaths using air-dry clay, green paint, purple and pink chenille stems for candles, and yellow/orange dot stickers for the flames.

Each child got a ball of clay so they could form it into a wreath shape.

Then they painted the wreath green and placed 4 chenille stems ("candles")  that I cut 2 inches long.
I gave them 4 yellow/orange circle stickers and had them wrap one sticker around one purple candle.  The children can "light" another candle by placing a sticker on another purple candle as each Sunday in Advent arrives.  So they can count down the weeks until CHRISTmas day with their own handmade wreath.

Here is what the wreath will look like when complete
This year we will be reading Jotham's Journey, A Storybook for Advent with our children.  We will try to read it with using only the light from the candle(s).  It's beautiful to see that as we get closer to the celebration of Christ's birth, each lit candle makes the room brighter and reading easier.  I love how this symbolizes how we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ, the Light of the world! 

Jesse Tree Tradition

We will also be decorating our Jesse Tree and reading scripture as our children put on one symbol per night on our "tree" (which is a branch we found in our woods in a pot covered with purple cloth).  Our symbols are made out of paper and our children colored each picture. I then laminated them and punched a hole to tie a string to the paper.  I made copies of these symbols from this page on  . We have enjoyed reading The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean in years past and we will continue with this tradition this year.  We read one story each night which relates to the Jesse Tree and its symbols.

                                           Advent Tree and Wrapped Christmas Books Tradition

If you are like me, you may have a lots of Christmas books that you have collected through the years.  A few years ago I found a great way to read our religious and secular Christmas books and at the same time have my children anticipate Jesus' birthday.  I wrap up each book with purple wrapping paper.  I usually find the purple paper in our local Dollar Tree store.  Then beginning on Dec. 1st, one child opens one book and we read it as a family.  Then on Dec. 2, our next child opens a book and so on.  My children really love this idea of opening their Advent Christmas book.  I have a small "Advent tree" in our great room decorated with purple balls and under this tree is where we have our wrapped Christmas books.  This small Advent tree goes up at the beginning of Advent and then we buy our real Christmas tree sometime later in December.  
I also number the books and put each child's name on the back of the wrapping paper so I don't have to remember who gets to unwrap the next book!

Another Advent tradition in our family is reading the book What God Wants for Christmas.

This is a beautiful story that is written in rhyme on each page.  For example, the first page tells of the angel Gabriel from Luke 1:26.  After each page the book directs the children to open one of 7 boxes which contain pieces to make the interactive nativity set. So in box number 1, they will find a little angel Gabriel figurine to place in the manger scene.  The 7th box is when the children discover the best surprise...which is what God wants for CHRISTmas!
The book goes along with the interactive kid-friendly nativity set, which has the 7 boxes and the pop-up manger scene.
My children love this book and interactive nativity set and I look forward to sharing this my children.

Givingtreecover2Speaking of books, I'm excited to add two more books to our Advent traditions.  The first book titled, The Amazing Giving Tree Secret, A Story of Kindness, Love, & Joy is written by Mary Ellen Fimbel, who is local author and a member of my parish.  I just met Mary not too long ago at our church's craft fair and I enjoyed listening to all the ways the Holy Spirit worked through her to remember and honor her grandchild, Andrew, who passed away at 6 months old. The proceeds from Mary's book will go to Andrew's Toy Box, a non-profit, charitable organization founded in memory of Andrew Fimbel, who passed away on February 17, 2001 from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  The disease is the No. 1 genetic killer of children under two.   
My children loved this book and with so many giving trees during this time of year, it would be a perfect story to share with your family during this Advent season!

Jesusgiftbookphoto2The second book, called Jesus' Birthday Gift is a treasure also and is written by Mary's sister, Michelle Boggiano.  This book is full of beautiful colors and illustrations and has a wonderful message that goes along with the story of Jesus' birth.  I also love the fact that some Spanish vocabulary is sprinkled throughout this beautiful story.   Proceeds from this book will also go to Andrew's Toy Box.   

 Family Fun Bucket Tradition

One year a friend of mine made this family fun bucket for me. 
Inside the bucket are strips of white, green, and red heavy paper with simple fun things to do.  Each night in December, each family member picks out a strip of paper, reads it and then our family does what is on the paper.  For example, one says "What is the real meaning of Christmas?" or "Shhh! the secret phrase is : "Christmas Lights." Describe the phrase and see who can guess it." or "It's sing-along time! Everyone sing "Silent Night".   There is a great variety of simple, fun things to do and this has been really great to do as a family!
I have made several Family Fun Buckets for family and friends for gifts and everyone has enjoyed this low cost and meaningful gift!  I have the list of all activities on 7 pages saved on a file in my computer.  If you would like to have this list please Contact Me and I will be more than happy to email you this list!
A great resource we love is the Holy Heroes website which has an Advent Adventure for families.  It is free to sign up and each day our family gets an email with the next day's adventure lesson.  My children love to watch the children on the videos and hear the Bible stories and history of Advent.

So if you are looking for another great way to enhance your Advent season with your family, check out the Holy Heroes website and enjoy your adventure!

The season of Advent is such a special time and I am thankful that our family celebrates the true meaning of Christmas by doing several fun and meaningful Advent activities to prepare for the day when we can sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus!"
There are so many wonderful ways to prepare our hearts and homes for the birthday of Christ! I pray my links will inspire you to try one or two new traditions.

Here's a great 1 minute video about what Advent is not and what Advent is!

What is YOUR favorite Advent tradition?
Tell us about it in the comments!

Visit these participating blogs for awesome posts about Keeping Christ in Christmas!

Equipping Catholic Families... Keep Christ in Christmas
Simply Homeschool... Living Advent Series 12/1 - 12/25
Coffee Moments with Sam...The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies...Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God...Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home...Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes...Bring Christ to Others
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling...Keep Christ in Christmas
Em’s Estuary...Keeping Christ in Christmas O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Home to 4 Kiddos...Keep Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home...Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom... Trusting in your Awkward Fiats
Designs by Birgit... Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
Catholic Inspired... Faith-Centered Family Christmas
A Slice of Smith Life... How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year...Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender... Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom... Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel... Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising Soldiers 4 Christ... Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats...How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Life Unabridged... Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy...Keeping Christ in Christmas 
Mrs Domestic Bliss...Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller...Keeping Christ in Christmas

California to Korea...Keeping Christ in Christmas

Dominique's Desk...Keeping Christ in Christmas
  Our ABC Life... An Advent Update

Journey Living...Anno Domini
The Road to Rome... Advent Prayer and Reflection Resources

Life of Fortunate Chances... Keeping Christ in Christmas

Quidquid Est, Est!...Reblog: Advent Posts

  May you have a blessed Advent season as we remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!


Cheryl said...

You have some great ideas here! I will check out the "What God Wants for Christmas" book -- it looks very interesting. The link didn't work; where did you find it? I'll do a web search and see if I can locate it.

Blessed Advent to you!

Hi Cheryl,

Sorry about the link not working. I bought the book and set many years ago. I have updated the link and it appears the cover of the book has changed a bit since I bought it. Have a blessed Advent! -Tracy

Chris said...

Great post; very thorough!

We, too, use that JT book and the Ytreeide books as well!!

Not involved in the follow frenzy ...did it for lent and it was too crazy...but wanted to stop in at a few Keep Christ links to say hi:)
God bless

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas. I'll look for your recommended Christmas books and read them with the family :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas! I'll look for your recommended Christmas books and read it with the family. God bless you!

Birgit J said...

I really enjoyed this post and will teach the kids your rhyming Advent song. Our Advent calendar is a collection of tiny, numbered books that tell the journey up to and including the Nativity. We add each book (they have golden hangers) to our 'Waiting Tree' as we anticipate Jesus' birth. Happy Advent!

Anonymous said...

Like Birgit I love the rhyming song as I can see it as something we can do with our two year old now. I've already looked for the nativity book on ebay; but it's about £18 from the states - eek! I'll keep trying to find one more reasonably priced closer to home as I could do this with The Little One with our own nativity as well.
Really fantastic ideas. I've signed up to follow your blog!

Unknown said...

Great ideas. We did Jotham's Journey last year with the kids. There are two other books in the series and I wanted to do one this year, but didn't get it in time {I'll probably try and get it later and have it for next year at Christmas!}

Fantastic! I've never heard of some of the books. I'll have to see if I can find them. Thank you!

Fantastic! I haven't heard of those books before. I'll have to check them out.

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your reviews for all those books. "What God Wants for Christmas" sounds lovely. When I was a kid, my Mom read us a lot books. And we had a number of Christmas ones too. But now that we college/post-grad, they are in a closet somewhere. Maybe I'll bring them out again. :)
It must be cool to have a real pine tree for Christmas! I live in the Philippines so there is no way I could get a real tree.

Anonymous said...

Great blog post.
So full of ideas.
We do several of the same things.


noreen said...

Hi Tracy, you have a comprehensive list of great ways to celebrate are very thorough! You're lucky you have What God Wants for Christmas because right now on Amazon, it's crazy expensive! I also checked to see if it was at my local library and it wasn't. I really liked the Advent video on Youtube. Puts it all into perspective, right? Enjoy your Advent Season with your new baby! You get to re-do all the fun activities over and over with your baby. May God bless you and your family!

Your Advent tree is lovely. My goal for this Advent is to work on our book collection, so we can do wrapped books next year!

Anonymous said...

Tracy, I love the idea of wrapping up the books! That's such a fun and creative way to make reading time more fun! And you already know how much we are loving your Advent tree idea! Thanks so much!

Matthew said...

Thank you for a great post. We put up our Advent wreath last Sunday (after a few years of not putting it up). It's a great reminder to celebrate Advent.

We will have to check out "What God wants for Christmas" sounds like a good one!

I love the idea of wrapping up the Advent and Christmas books, but have to admit that I just don't get them even OUT of the closet in a timely fashion.

Love the co-op Advent wreath craft, too.

What a wonderful post! Thank you for the book recommendations. I was not aware of a couple of them...always great for the family library and to give as gifts. Will have to check back on your Advent ideas...

Blessings this Advent!

What great traditions! We do many of the same. How do you like the Jesse tree book? I keep waivering

Wow, what great ideas! I haven't seen that book, What God Wants for Christmas before. I'll have to check it out.

Unknown said...

I love your Advent traditions - we have quite a few in common, even if we're based in the Philippines! :) We have Jotham's Journey but did not read it this year, the kids didn't seem too interested in it. Hopefully, we can read it next year. We do the Jesse Tree, Advent Wreath, Advent books too! I will try the Family Fun Bucket for next year. :) God bless you and yours!

I'm so glad to see that you do a Jesse Tree! My family does too. We use felt ornaments that are handmade. Please visit my Etsy shop to see photos:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Subscribe and never miss an update and post!

Hello! Thank you for your Visit!

Hello!  Thank you for your Visit!
I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

Looking for Something? Search My Blog

Follow Me


Please Visit My Sponsor

Amazon Affiliate Search Box

You can support my blog and my family by purchasing through my Amazon affiliate link by using this Amazon Search Box to find products and I will receive a small percentage from your order at no cost to you!

Visit My Friends and Affiliate Links!

I get a small percentage from your purchases!
Thank you!

CCC of America

Brita Baby Boutique

Brita Baby Boutique

Follow Me on Pinterest!

Member of Catholic Bloggers Network

Saintnook: Check It Out!

Saintnook: The Saints are Always Online

Curious about the Catholic faith? Click Below

My Blog is Listed at Blog Mommas

My Blog is Listed at Catholic Mommy Blogs

Healthy Moms Magazine Recognition

100 Top Homeschooling Blogs | Healthy Moms Magazine

Blog Post Categories

Blog Archive

Design by My Heart's Desire Creations Copyright © A Slice of Smith Life. Powered by Blogger.

Grab My Button

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Copyright © [2010 and forward]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and images without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.