Preparing for Advent

I can’t believe that Advent is less than two weeks away!

As I have been mentally preparing myself, I remembered that, having not made the most of Advent last year,  I posted some ideas on Marthas Heart of what I’d like to do differently in 2012.  I reread it this morning and thought I’d repost it for afewbeadsshort readers.

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Hindsight is 20/20

Being the “Martha” that I am, I got completely caught up in the holiday craziness and let it pass by me with tons of stress and little true appreciation for the joy of the season.  This was despite the fact that I bought relatively few presents for my kids and tried not to overbook myself with activities.  In the last few days, I’ve been trying to relax and enjoy the remaining tidbits before we celebrate Christ’s baptism tomorrow and the official Christmastide is well and truly over.

I have vowed, with God’s help, to do better next year, and thought I’d note the things that I can do differently.  I’m sure this list won’t be anywhere near complete, so please feel free to chime in any thoughts you might have from your own personal experience.

  1. Start my shopping earlier and make a concrete, written list of what I’m buying for everyone.  I ended up doing way to much late night shopping the last week before Christmas.  With all the kids’ activities the last week of school, it would be exceedingly helpful to have everything taken care of before that week!
  2. Have a budget, and stick to it.  We blew the budget with the first item we bought, but just kept going anyways.  Knowing that we were spending way more than we should gave me a general sense of unease that lasted the whole season and still lingers as I examine finances in January.
  3. Commit to a spiritual practice for the duration of Advent.   I had made a commitment in September with the intention to reevaluate at Advent.  I never did reevaluate and instead just stopped doing most of it.  My priest recommended giving something up for Advent, and I think that’s a nice idea as well. (I know this idea might seem crazy to many, but he explained it well.  See his homily at  At a minimum, I wish I had kept up with an Advent devotional.
  4. The past several years, my kids and I have enjoyed reading Usborne Books’ Advent Nativity Book every night during Advent (or at least starting Dec. 1).  This book has 25 cut outs that together make a manger scene.  The kids would get very excited about reading it every night and getting to add one more piece to the scene.  Every night, it reminded us of “the reason for the season” and helped keep us balanced.  I didn’t have a good place to put it this year, so we never did it.  I really missed that and plan to reinstate it’s use next year.  If you can come up with a similar practice, I highly recommend it.
  5. Play more Christmas music!  Music is powerful, especially religious Christmas music.

“You belong to God, children, …for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.  This is an absolute Biblical truth, but I was reminded this Advent that we must choose the one who is in us over the one who is in the world.  Today, I choose Him, and pray for the grace to choose Him every moment of every day in 2011 and beyond.

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If you love free stuff, stay tuned for a special Advent giveaway that I am hosting!  Also, I just added a “Subscribe to button” on the right hand side.  If you’d like to be the first to know when I add new posts, please sign up!


3 comments on “Preparing for Advent
  1. Dana Lashley says:

    Awesome! I was just sitting here, thinking, hmm…haven’t checked the blog lately, I wonder if I missed anything. I will be subscribing as soon as I click post!

    I also have trouble with Advent, and trying to maintain a sense of leading up to Christmas, instead of just kind of “Christmas from the day after Thanksgiving until the end of the Christmas season”. Not only does it make Christmas so long, that it loses some of it’s specialness (new word I just made up), but I feel cheated on missing out on Advent. My husband (for those that don’t know – not Catholic) insists on putting all Christmas trees/decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. The last couple years I’ve tried to get him to agree to wait on at least the tree until Christmas Eve. No go. I do leave the Baby Jesus out of the Nativity Scenes until Christmas morning, and that is the first present that is opened. Any other helpful hints to keep Advent from turning into just more Christmas?

  2. stephanie says:

    Hey, Dana! I missed this comment, so I’m sorry I’m just now responding.

    Growing up, my family always put the tree up two weeks before Christmas. I like that tradition, and have continued to do the same. I know this doesn’t fit the true, Catholic Advent, but I enjoy the build up and anticipation, and having the decorations up adds to that for me.

    Last year, I didn’t play Christmas music, only Advent music, but that’s very difficult to find, so I just wound up not listening to any seasonal music. I’m going to put together an Advent play list this year. Maybe we should brainstorm on ideas for that?

    I think the devotional is a key. I’m reading Pope Benedict’s new book, “Jesus of Nazareth The Infancy Narratives” (sorry, I don’t know how to underline or italicise in comments). I’m really enjoying it and looking forward to reading it during at least part of Advent. After that, I’m reading “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn, unless someone replies to my post about Advent ideas with another good idea!

    I really love our Usborne Advent book, and I’m looking forward to having an Advent calendar with drawers for scripture verses and goodies for the kids. When I come up with a list of scripture verses, I’ll post it!

    • Dana Lashley says:

      I’ve been trying to make more time to read lately, and I absolutely LOVE Scott Hahn, but I’m so far behind on my reading of the Catechism, it’s not even funny (I’m doing that email thing where you read a little of the Catechism every day, so at the end of the year, you’ve read the whole thing). I would love to learn more things to do. Really looking forward to hearing all about the Jesse tree.

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