All posts filed under: Advent

Our Favorite Christmas Books

1)      The Friendly Beasts—Tomie  dePaola Tomie dePaola beautifully illustrates a classic Christmas carol.  His book is a celebration of the joy surrounding Christ’s birth.  The full song with notes is included in the back. 2)      The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton   Pamela Dalton uses cut-paper artwork, a folk art tradition of Pennsylvania German origin, to bring the Nativity to life.  Her delicate, detailed pictures are pure magic. 3)      Cranberry Christmas—Wende Devlin This book follows the delightful Cranberry Thanksgiving, an absolute favorite in our house.  Set in a small town near the edge of a cranberry bog in New England, this book carries the spirit of Christmastide with its vintage style pictures and warm characters.  It even includes a recipe for Christmas cookies on the back. 4)      Cricket at the Manger ~ Edith Hope Fine—Illustrated by Winslow Pels A retelling of Christ’s birth from the vantage point of a tiny cricket.  Surprisingly, it is both whimsical and reverent; the story does not dilute into a “cutesy” Christmas story.  Instead, with rhythmic prose, this sweet …

“The Great O Antiphons” with New Printable Ornaments

Singing or reading the Great “O” Antiphons in the week leading up to Christmas has become a lovely tradition of my own that I try to observe during Advent.  This year, I plan to print these images that I painting last year, and make them into ornaments with my kids.  I share them here in case you would like to do the same. As part of our Advent devotions, we will likely cut these out, and someone will write the accompanying verse and plea on the back.  Then we will hang it on our tree, alongside the Jesus Tree ornaments we have read.  Simple, short, but a way to continue to look forward to our Savior’s arrival.  And if in the madness of life we don’t do it this year, we will try again next year. The Great O Antiphons Ornaments

If I handcraft artisan shoes for St. Nicholas Day, but have not love…

If I learned how to handcraft artisan shoes for my child for St. Nicholas’s feast day, but have not love, I’m only a stressed out mom going overboard. And if I read and share all the best Advent quotes, and meal plan every day according to the liturgical calendar, and if I even remember to order wheat from Amazon to plant on St. Lucy’s day, but have not love, I am nothing. If I KonMari away everything I have, and if I deliver up my body to childbearing and breastfeeding, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient (when my toddler wants to do something “by myself” yet again); Love is kind (when I want  to roll my eyes at a friend’s seeming melodrama); Love does not envy or boast (when I feel insecure about someone else’s beauty or choices); It is not arrogant (when I think I can do more than everyone else because, apparently, I’m exceptional) Or rude (when I make my child be polite, but don’t apply the same standards to …

From the Archives: St. Nicholas Day Treat Bag

Saint Nicholas Day has come to be one of my favorite Advent traditions.  It is a bright and celebratory spot in the waiting weeks of Advent, and it reminds us of a man of faith who loved, and brought joy to, children.  There are many great resources about Saint Nicholas: Saint Nicholas Center – A site packed full of information on “the original Santa Claus,” with lots of information on Saint Nicholas, and ideas for activities, food, and other ways to celebrate. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend – This story elaborates on the idea that Saint Nicholas’ good works and generosity all stemmed from his love for God. The Baker’s Dozen – My favorite St. Nicholas Day story, about a baker who learns to be generous and open-hearted the hard way.  The illustrations in this book are stunning. In past years, we have done homemade gifts for all of our kid friends, and delivered them on Saint Nicholas Day, with a little note.  Since we have a new baby in the house …

Advent is for Making: A Reflection

There is a special dearness about Christmas gifts that are made.  Even when they are clumsily made, they are lovely because the loveliness that goes into them is from the heart and the mind and the hands: hours and days of tacking and tying, fitting and pasting, stitching and hammering, chiseling and modeling – all of it with a permeation of love and effort that cannot be priced.  The making of gifts should be a special part of Advent; an outpouring of self into something we make for someone we love, entirely in the spirit of the remaking of our hearts for Christ, for receiving the gift Someone who loves us made for us. With this making go long evenings of work together, wonderful conversations, meditations, evening prayers.  We need only work together to have an early dinner, clear away the dishes, tidy the kitchen, get the littlest ones off to bed, keep the TV and radio turned off, and there – we have a long evening before us.  Perhaps it is not possible to …

A Holy Year Calendar

Isn’t it interesting that the Christian year begins the first Sunday in Advent?  What a lovely way to orient ourselves to a new year, by beginning with quietness and darkness, preparing to welcome the great light of Christ. I painted this church year calendar for my own children, as a way for them to visualize how the changing sundays and colors of the church year correspond to the seasons.  Now that we live on a farm, I am even more appreciative of the endless sundays in Trinity, that ordinary time, that is full of the necessary and mundane business of life.  As we approach winter, with less “ordinary” work, our time is free for celebration and feasting. Please enjoy this printable with your own family, and Happy New Church Year! A Church Year at Home  

Preparing for Advent: Jesus Tree Ornaments

If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Advent, here is one of our favorite first posts, with Bley’s beautiful Jesus Tree Ornaments. For the past few years, we have been trying to keep a quiet Advent, and one way we do this is by using a Jesus Tree devotional.  A lovely friend recommended the Jesus Tree Devotional by Rachel Chaney, which is based on The Jesus Storybook Bible.  It has proven to be an easy and meaningful way for us to keep our focus on the spirit of Advent, and build up to the celebration of Christmas.  The devotional itself is straightforward and easy to use: there is a symbol with corresponding Bible text for days 1-25 of December, and then a script/story that you read aloud to your children.  A traditional hymn follows to sing, and there is an ornament that you can cut out and color with your children.  The thing I love about this devotional is that it makes it so easy on Mom: all you have to do is read the story …

“Advent is for Making:” Sharing a Gift From Your Family Culture

One of the most meaningful gifts I or my family has ever received came last Christmas from some dear friends of ours.  Their family loves to read; they love a good story, fairy land and tales; and they love beautiful language and pictures. They spent time frequenting library book sales, and put together personalized stacks of books for gifting according to their friend’s and family’s interests.  It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received; but I mostly love it because in sharing a stack of great books, it was clear to me that they were gifting us a slice of their precious family culture. This Advent, why not consider assembling or creating gifts together with your children to give to family and friends?  If you are longing to simplify gift-giving, and avoid the commercialization of the holiday season, working with your children to craft gifts is one way to take the focus off of the things they are wanting, and transfer it to considering what they could create to delight others.  Plus, …

The ‘Great O’ Antiphons

One of the things I love about the church year is that it offers a richness of historical tradition, and numerous ways of ruminating on Truth.  The “Great O” Antiphons, as they are called, are additional verses added to the singing of the Magnificat during Advent, and they each elaborate on one of the “mysterious” names of Christ from Isaiah.  Others have written about the history and significance of these verses much more eloquently than I, and I encourage you to read through these and enjoy praying them in the last few days before Christmas, as we reach a crescendo, imploring Him to “Come!”. The “Great O” Antiphons: December 16th: O Sapientia O Wisdom, who didst issue out of the mouth of the most High, and dost reach from one end of the world to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence. December 17th: O Adonai O Lord and ruler of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in a burning bush, and didst …

Double Vision in Advent

Advent historically splits our vision into two focal points in time: the first coming of Christ in the manger and His second coming in glory. For some reason, this dual vision unsettles me. And, it’s probably supposed to, in the wisdom of our forbearers. We are not allowed to only rejoice in the tiny baby in the manger, but we must grapple with the reality that this is also the one who died and rose again and will come again to judge both the quick and the dead.