Sunday, 27 November 2016 06:15

Advent Graces

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Growing up as a cradle Catholic, my family put a strong emphasis on prayer, attending Mass, and celebrating major feasts. We were a family that prayed, played, and celebrated.

I have many fond memories of our Advent traditions. When I was a child we would place our Nativity pieces throughout our home and "move" them during Advent until we concluded with putting Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas, and the Three Wise Men in the Nativity set on Epiphany. We sang "This Little Light of Mine" and read from an Advent storybook that, to this day, I wish I could find to use with my own children. The cherished memories I have of these simple but beautiful traditions are perhaps some of my fondest recollections of my childhood. These lovely memories propelled me into a whole new adventure of my own when my husband and I started to pave our own way as a tiny Catholic family. We really wanted to embrace each season and celebrate as the Church celebrated (not necessarily as the major retail chains celebrate). So we started with what we knew best: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

At Mass we are wondrously blessed with so many beautiful signs of the seasons of our Faith. The one that always stuck out for me was the use of color to denote the Liturgical Season we are in, and what exactly we are celebrating or remembering. As an artist, the beauty of creation jumps out in an exuberant array all around me at every turn. God reveals Himself in and through the colors of creation, and I have always found Him to paint His Life in me through this gift of color. Given my past experience of Advent, I was committed to celebrate with the traditional purple.  So, with the help of family members, and my own imagination, I cleaned out our local craft store of any "holiday" decor that included purple. Granted, this was a bit at odds with most Catholic homes since most decorate for Christmas and also have some Advent pieces with their holiday decorations.

However, it was important to us to wait to have "Christmas" until Christmas and to embrace Advent during Advent. So I "decorated" for Advent - purple for expectant waiting and repentance, evergreen for hope and renewal. I made an Advent wreath with a dark purple ribbon and left out any semblance of red and green while looking for something more in line with how our parish decorated for this holy season. We decided to wait to decorate the tree until Christmas Eve and I found some deep purple ribbon to leave on the tree during Advent to keep the season festive but still expectant. The tree is there (as Christ was there in Mary's womb) but His glory is hidden and our decorations are also still awaiting their time to be revealed as we awaited the celebration of Christ's birth. The tree is also used as our Advent Calendar with boxes I made to be opened each day of Advent.

My children enjoy celebrating St. Nicholas’ feast on December 6th instead of getting a vast number of gifts from Santa on Christmas Day. We embrace St. Lucy’s feast and the other lovely feasts in December, and we wait to display any Christmas gifts until after the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve. My husband has even made an outdoor Advent Wreath for our lawn, the “candles” are christmas light trees. We light one of the “candles” each week and on Christmas we light the white tree in the middle. All of this waiting and preparing reminds our family not only of the long years the Israelites waited for the Savior, but also of the time of waiting for Jesus to return. We wait. We AWAIT. And Christ has blessed our family through these annual Advent weeks of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. And yes, the darkness of Christmas morning is immensely brightened by the long expected lights on the tree and by the prayers we say by the Nativity before opening gifts. Our celebration begins with Christmas Day and lasts until Epiphany! We then keep our Christmas tree up through Christmas season and don’t take it down until the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. I have found great joy in these holy days, these holy traditions. I only hope and pray they lead our children to embrace the eternal; to walk in the light of the promised and given gift of our beloved Jesus; our Emmanuel.

 

EvieDayEvie Day is a homeschooling mom from Orange Park, Florida. She has two children ages 8 and 10. She has been married to her husband Mike Day for 12 years. Evie graduated with a BFA in Acting from Florida State University. She has been a homeschooler for 6 years and dabbles in acting coaching, drama classes for homeschoolers, and acting on stage. Evie volunteers at Lumen Entertainment´s Film Camp and is currently working with both Lumen Entertainment and the Catholic Writers Guild of Jacksonville, Florida. She has co-written a book with her husband, Expectant Joy, which is a prayer resource for couples who wish to pray through each trimester of their pregnancy. Evie enjoys living the Liturgical Year with her family, playing geeky games, running, doing Shakespeare monologues in the bathroom and dancing in her living room.