Monday, November 29, 2010

Trying something (old) new for Advent/Christmas

Remember all those great old movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story" where they decorate their tree on Christmas Eve?

After reading the book "The Catholic Home" I've decided to give it a try in the Herring household. I really want to infuse a Catholic Christian atmosphere in to our home, and now is the perfect time to do some "tweaking." I get so annoyed by the mega stores who have Christmas decorations up by Halloween and who try to make Christmas all about the presents (Hello? Anyone seen "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"???). Heck, I've even fallen prey to this attitude -- preparing for Christmas becomes all about lists, greeting cards, and asking, "So what did ____ get you for Christmas?" So this year I'm going to fight against it.

Sure, we'll still prepare by getting our cards out to family and friends, buying a couple of presents for our kids and some family members, listening to Christmas music, and putting up decorations. But I'm holding off on the tree until Christmas Eve. Why? Not just because I want to replicate all those good ol' movies, but because I think it is going to be good for me to wait on that oh-so-visible sign of Christmas through the season of Advent.

We're going to celebrate Advent as a season of waiting, preparation, and anticipation. We probably won't do it perfectly, but we'll try our best to focus on preparing our HEARTS for Christ's birth by doing a Jesse tree (or some variation), an Advent calendar, and celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas (the real Santa Claus). So what about Santa? Don't know, don't care. I'm honestly ambivalent about him. Now that Clare is old enough to understand it all, I think what we'll end up doing is some variation on Santa. We'll put up our stockings on St. Nicholas Eve (Dec. 5) and she'll get a little treat the next morning and we'll talk about honoring the things that St. Nicholas did while he was alive on earth. Then Christmas presents will be given not because "Santa" brings them, but because we are participating in the celebration of Jesus' birthday.

And then we'll leave our tree up for the duration of the Christmas season which lasts until Jan.6.