Well, not yet anyway. ;-)
I keep seeing everyone post pictures of their Christmas trees, their decorations, their parties, and I’m so tempted to jump in! But this year we’re observing Advent during Advent and celebrating Christmas during Christmas. Which means that while everyone else is being all festive, we’re preparing in a more solemn and reflective way. And when everyone is burnt out on the holidays and putting away their decorations, we’ll be celebrating and saying “Merry Christmas!” I know our neighbors think we’re just lazy when our tree and lights are still up well into January…but no, we mean to do that.
We’ve been trying to make a move toward this more traditional celebration for the past few years now. We started small, with the advent wreath. Then we began celebrating Christmas up until the Feast of the Epiphany and adding the Epiphany traditions. Then we began celebrating the real St. Nicholas and traditions surrounding St. Nick on his feast day (December 6) and reserving Christmas day for Jesus’ Nativity. So this year, our Christmas celebrating will BEGIN on Christmas Eve.
One of the things we’ve picked up again this year, is the Jesse tree. In a nutshell, we start the first Sunday of Advent (this year, it was November 29), and each day we read a Scripture passage and hang an ornament with a symbol, which takes us through salvation history from the beginning up to Christ’s birth. There are many different ways you can do it, but we decided this year to put up our regular tree and hang our Jesse tree symbols there. We will continue to add our daily ornament until the Christmas Eve vigil, where we will decorate it in full and have our traditional blessing of the Christmas tree and lighting ceremony.
We got our symbols from the book Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in the Domestic Church, but they are available at different places on the web as well. We copied them, colored them, cut and pasted them on construction paper, laminated them, punched holes in them, and strung thread through them. A smarter person might buy them already made. ;-) But it was nice to have us all working together; the kids did a superb job coloring and cutting them out.
Aside from our Advent “non-celebrating” and Jesse tree, we’re doing the same traditions that we have in years past, which you can read about here.
Today, we celebrated St. Nicholas’ feast day with a special breakfast, stockings filled with gold-wrapped chocolate and warm fuzzy socks for the kids, stories of St. Nicholas’ kindness, and special pages to color.
You know what’s so neat about it? When I first started to make a move toward a more traditional celebration of Christmas, I was afraid that my kids would feel like they were missing out on something, especially since “Santa” is such a big deal to most kids. That hasn’t been the case. My oldest daughter, who also converted when she was 8-years-old, has remarked to me before that the way we are celebrating now is more fun.
If you want more fun things to do with the kids this season, check out Domestic Church. I love this site!