"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our [current] traditions (7QT)

So many Advent and Christmas posts floating around, eh? I didn't intend on adding one to the mix but I kind of like the idea of looking back several years from now and seeing what changed and what didn't for our family. Feel free to skip this one ;)

We didn't really start any traditions until last year, since Landon was finally old enough to understand. And I know we don't have to do it all (we don't!), and I'm still learning what works best for our family. Crafts? Ain't happening. Food? Books? Heck yes. Here are 7 things (except 1) that we did last year and plan to do again this year! And every year after, assuming it still works for our family. But I'm already thinking I might change some things next year...

1. Advent wreath
 Just once a week, even though we have a devotional book with one for each day and could do it daily. Every Sunday night (or Monday, if Logan was working Sunday), we light the appropriate candle(s) and say a little devotional and sing a verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." We bought both the wreath and the book from our church a couple years ago.
Logan would like me to add that he also moves the 3 Wise Men closer to our nativity set-up each week, and Landon really likes "finding" where they moved. I guess you could say it's the Catholic version of Elf on a Shelf ;)

2. Jesse Tree
Nothing fancy, I promise. I printed out printable ornaments and just had to attach twine for hooks. I found a tiny tree on clearance for like $2. I also ordered a book that Kendra made (because she's totally on the ball with these things) with all of the Scripture passages for each day. But since the kids are still young, we aren't actually reading them - we just summarize quickly. Landon does like looking at the pictures, though! And he totally digs hanging the ornaments himself. (Kendra also explains in that post how to make coordinating ornaments with the book, and they're adorable...but I wanted something simpler. AKA quicker.) I should also add that sometimes I forget to do this every night, like when Logan is working, so some nights we do 2 or 3 (or more, ahem) ornaments. 'Tis life. But I do like this idea and it doesn't stress me out even though we sometimes forget about it...so we will keep doing it!
 (In hindsight I should have picked ornaments more child-like...but these are still beautiful. And free.)

3. Stockings for the feast of St. Nicholas
Growing up, opening my stocking on Christmas morning was my favorite because my mom was so good at putting fun (and useful) things in it. And since the idea of opening presents AND stockings is a little overwhelming for me as an adult, I thought it was the perfect excuse to do stockings on St. Nicholas' Day instead. It really is becoming one of our favorite things ever - Logan and I even surprise each other with stuff in each other's stockings! I feel like everybody does the whole shoe thing, but I like the stocking tradition. Bonus that it makes Christmas less stressful.
These boys waited ALL DAY on Sunday for Daddy to get home from work...and then they humored me by letting me take a picture before diving into their stockings. Loooove them. (And, um, Chase looks as big as Landon! And yes, we stayed in PJs all day since we had gone to vigil mass.)

4. Cookies on Gaudete Sundy (3rd Sunday in Advent)
I know some families are really good about saving all the Christmasy stuff for the 12 days of Christmas. We are not that family. YET. (Logan totally loves to decorate the house as soon as Thanksgiving is over and I once suggested we wait til closer to Christmas and he looked at me like I had 3 heads. So, I choose to pick my battles and that is not one of them.) Basically this is our compromise - baking and decorating cookies on Gaudete Sunday. It's supposed to be a joyful day and nothing says joyful to me like cookies. ;) Can't wait to do this in a couple days!
Blurry iPhone picture from last year. Baby Chase!!
5. 3 presents on Christmas
Lots of people do this one, I know, and it totally makes things easier. Although after reading Auntie Leila's post about the 12 days of Christmas, I'm thinking next year I might try to just give the kids ONE present on Christmas...and try to incorporate other gifts on some of the other 11 days.
I just had to include this picture from last year!
6. New this year! 12 books for 12 days of Christmas
I'm pretty excited about this one. I can't guarantee I'll do it every year - because MONEY - but thanks to my sister (ha) who signed up as an Usborne Consultant, I had a lot of books set aside for future gifts. The boys will each get a book as one of their 3 gifts on Christmas, and then they will get to open one book together for the subsequent 11 days.

7. Epiphany party
My friends have been throwing a joint party the weekend of Epiphany for a few years now. We take turns hosting at different houses (although this year we might trying a public place...we'll see). The main reason we wait is because it's too crazy to fit it in the actual Christmas season - lots of people are out of town between Christmas and New Year's. So! We've been doing an Epiphany party and it actually works out well and is a great reminder that we should still be celebrating.
Apparently we didn't take pictures last year (it was at my house, so I was too preoccupied), so this was the year before! I was pregnant early on with Chase. And there was a Saints game on that night, hence the black and gold attire.
We've done other things too if I feel like it's simple enough to add in. Like last year, I hosted a playdate on the feast of St. Juan Diego, and we ate nachos. That's it. Simple! (Not Advent-related, I know. But still.) We also like to decorate gingerbread houses and visit Celebration in the Oaks, a really nice lights display in New Orleans. But we don't have a set day for those activities, mainly because Logan's schedule is not normal, and we have to play a lot of things by ear.

Thanks to Annabelle for hosting this week! Go see her to read more 7QT.

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