Happy Advent! It's not that I'm doing a ton of stuff for Advent, it's that all six kids are now old enough (or young enough ) to want to do something each day of Advent, so we do the first 6 things each day in rotation.
The Advent House. Each door has 6 pieces of candy and a piece of the Playmobil Nativity. Each year, we lose more pieces of the set, so I usually buy a new set every other year. This year I couldn't find it!
This morning, Choclo opened door 3 and was surprised to find 6 lemon drops and a wooden dog from a puzzle. Ummm. A sheepdog, that's it, the shepherds could have brought a dog...
2. A paper Advent calendar. This one has doors that start before December 1st and goes through the Baptism of the Lord. I like that. I also like that each door has matching scripture and the images go with the saint of the day. It even has the O antiphons. It's also very cool that it's 3 D and you can put a light inside. But I can't fully recommend it.
I do not like that it has Rosa Parks on December 1st. Why? Dorothy Day on December 4th I can kinda see, but Rosa Parks for Advent? I'm all for Rosa Parks, but it's an odd choice. These are the only two like that in the whole calendar, but they are both in the first week. I also feel one of the less noticeable images over one of the doors is kinda immodest. My kids haven't noticed it, but why put it in? That being said, I got it from LTP.
3. The Jesse Tree. Every year I want to give my friend a hug (you know who you are!). It was she who organized the Jesse tree swap. She found 28 people and we each made 28 of one kind of ornament. Then we all got together and, you know, swapped! She even made a little booklet of all the scripture passages for each day.
If you haven't heard of it, the Jesse Tree goes through Salvation History one ornament at a time. We start with a little salt dough Earth and read the Creation story. Then we had a play-doh apple for the fall of man. Today we had a fabric camel to symbolize the covenant with Abraham. This may be my favorite Advent activity.
4. The velcro calendar. I'm afraid I should have gotten a new one this year, ours is looking a bit shabby! I got this one cheaply at Oriental Trading 3 years ago. I think it's time to invest in an upgrade.
5. Choose a decoration. We have all our Christmas decorations in a big heap on the guest room bed and #5 gets to choose one each day.
This actually is a nice, low stress way to decorate. I also like the gradual build up better than the *poof* now it's Christmas approach, although I can see why some people prefer the latter.
If the house were all decorated I would feel like the presents all ought to be wrapped (or at least bought). For me, that way lies madness!
6.Zorg and I built our Advent wreath last weekend. We've found having the glass pillar candles solves a lot of the problems with little kids and Advent candles (no picking apart the wax, the flames are less accessible, etc.)
It didn't occur to me that it looked less like a wreath until Choclo explained to (non-Catholic) guests, "This is our Advent nest."
Now, every time I look at it, I think, "Nest." Not a bad image for Advent, actually, I guess. # 6 gets to light and/or blow out the Advent wreath/nest.
7. The hay in the manger. This isn't rotating. We try to do good deeds, make small sacrifices, or spend extra time praying to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Each time, we put a little hay in the manger to make Baby Jesus' bed (and our hearts) a little softer when He comes.
OK, this has to be my favorite! We have a very beautiful statue that we put in the manger at Christmas and it is always the first thing the kids look for on Christmas morning.
My all time favorite Christmas memory was the year the Mxyl was 4, Klenda was 3, and Zorg was 1. They were completely focused on Christmas as Jesus coming. They had filled the manger with cotton balls (instead of hay). They had made presents for other people as a way of giving presents to Jesus. It hadn't occurred to them that they would get any presents themselves. The pure joy on their face that morning when they saw the Baby Jesus in the manger is something I will always treasure. They were fully and completely happy with Jesus. The presents later were just nice extras.
More with Jen!