Christmas seems to have started at Halloween and is in full swing now. How do I let my kids enjoy the holiday season, but still remember that Christmas doesn’t start until Dec. 24? — Green Bay
Did you know that there is a connection between the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent? Both are times of preparation, both help us get ready for monumental events in the life of Christ and both seasons involve putting the distractions of the world in right order in our lives. That is why the liturgical colors in Advent reflect the liturgical colors of Lent, reminding us that there is a difference between the season of preparation and the celebration of Christmas/Easter. For a great explanation of this, read: “Why Advent is Called a Little Lent” (goodcatholic.org).
So how does a parent keep a more simple and reflective tone in the house when Christmas seems to have already started? Quite simply, your kiddos will follow your lead and reflect the tone you set in your home. It is possible to keep a spirit of anticipation growing in the home.
If you decide to be minimalistic as the holiday approaches, then keep the decorations simple and plan to do the majority of decorating as the holiday gets closer. If you have decided as a family to put up your decorations early, then find times to be quiet during the Advent season where silence and peace can be enjoyed. Saying family prayers before bed in a dark room lit only by the Christmas tree can be a beautiful time to take a break from the hustle and bustle and keep Christ as the focus. Whatever your family decides, keep reminding your children that we are getting ready for Christ’s birthday, not celebrating it all month.
Advent also provides a fantastic opportunity to involve your family in the rich wealth of traditions leading up to the holiday. Again, these are all ways we can reflect on our lives and better ourselves for Christ.
- Pray together as a family as you light the Advent wreath each night.
- Draw connections between St. Nicholas (Dec. 6) and our modern-day version of Santa.
- Do something special for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8 and talk about Jesus’ mother, Mary. You can also discuss how Mary intercedes and guides us by celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.
- St. Lucy (Dec. 13) can also be a great way to celebrate what living a life for Christ looks like.
- Incorporate a Jesse tree (simplycatholic. com/the-jesse-tree) which walks you through Jesus’ family tree during Advent.
These and many other ways can be celebrated in your home. Instead of the culture being the loudest voice in your home this Advent, find a way to make the preparation for Christ the focus of this season. The anticipation and lead-up will make the celebration so much sweeter.
Tremblay is the marriage and life ministries director for the Diocese of Green Bay.