Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A More Appalling Thought

This Sunday is the feast of Christ the King, which means the next Sunday will start Advent! Yikes!
Time to start planning out Advent!

I've actually had a lovely year or two where I was done Christmas shopping by Advent. Not this year, I think. :)

On the plus side, this gets easier to plan since we have settled into some fun traditions and I don't feel like I have to "come up with" something each year.

I like to print out a blank calendar to plan on so I don't try to stuff in too much.

It helps that we have a tradition of decorating slowly. The big stuff gets scheduled: the second Sunday of Advent we put out our outside decorations and lights, the family creche goes up on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the third Sunday we do the inside greenery, beads and bows (we decorate the light fixtures and doorways), and the fourth Sunday we do the tree.

All the rest of the decorations are hauled into the guest room. Each day a kid gets to go in and pick a decoration to put up. Naturally, what gets picked first every year is the light up talking Nativity.

The figures don't actually talk, instead there is a narration with music. Inexplicably, they start with the Wise men and then do the shepherds. It is played some 5 or 6 hundred times a day for the entire Advent and Christmas season. $10 at Walmart 5 years ago. Who knew?

Then I poll the kids about their favorite Advent activities. The results this year?

We will definitely do the manger (you put a straw in every time you do a good deed and, by Christmas, Baby Jesus has a nice soft bed).

We will also do the Advent house (each day you open a door and find a piece of the playmobil nativity and some candy) .

We will do the sticker book if I can find the stickers. I had thought I'd just buy a new one, but $268 seems a bit steep. I mean, it was great, but not enough for a second mortgage!

The Jesse tree.

Paper advent calendars for each kid.

The Advent wreath, of course. We'll probably make a paper one for the children's altar.

We'll do the O Antiphons, when they come around. We print them out and distribute them at random with a sheet of poster paper. Everyone does their antiphon, and we put them up on the appropriate day.

And then, each week, we'll have a day to make cookies, a day to do make presents, and a day to make a decoration.

I have been thinking of themes. Advent is so big, I like to have a focus. I am thinking of using a song this year. O Come O Come Emmanuel is obvious, but I've never liked it musically. Growing up, it was sung every Advent (sometimes every Advent Sunday!) and always with a dirge like tempo. The words are great, but...

We used People Look East a few years back, and I liked it very much. There are four verses, with a fifth for Christmas Eve, and each one can be thought of as a different kind of preparation. I may do it again this year. Here are the words:

1. People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.

2. Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the rose, is on the way.

3. Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
God for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

4. Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the star, is on the way.

5. Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

And here we have it sung:

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