Monday, December 1, 2014

Advent Preparedness

We went to Virginia for a lovely Thanksgiving and came home on Saturday evening----and now it's Advent! It seems that we are rarely home for Thanksgiving, and consequently don't have Friday and Saturday to "deck the halls" for Christmas Advent. I realized around noon Sunday that it was the First Sunday of Advent...really, I knew, but it took until then to really sink in and hit home... and the house was essentially a disaster from the trip, so after Mass I set out to get a few essentials done---like get out the Advent wreath for the dinner table and set up the Jesse Tree.  I've been planning to move our Little Oratory for a while, and putting out Christmas decorations and nativities seemed like a good time to do it.

Going through the "Christmas Closet" in the basement is a drag even though it is pretty well organized, but I had plenty of time to think while embarking on my solo decorating adventure. No one wanted to help, and while that made me a little sad, (I think all they care about is decorating the actual Christmas tree!),  I figure they'll all be gone soon and it will be all up to me anyway, just as it was when they were little.

Whether you have a houseful of little helpers or you're doing the whole job by yourself, I thought of some tips that might help keep it all under control and feel less overwhelming---my routine needed a little streamlining and simplifying, too. If you really want to drag out all the boxes the day after Thanksgiving and get it all done in one fell swoop----have at it! Just skip to the next blog. :-) But if you're more interested in not being overwhelmed and trying to keep an attitude of preparation, instead of frustration, keep reading.

First Sunday in Advent - The essentials for this day are:

  • Advent Wreath (on the table and maybe the front door)
  • Jesse Tree and ornaments
  • Jesse Tree book - whatever you use to do readings
  • Advent calendar(s)
  • a Nativity or two - it's nice to have one the kids can play with, along with a manger for putting "good deed" straws in.

All those items, along with all the Advent wreath candles that you got on sale last year, should be packed in a box together. Maybe label it "First Sunday."

St. Nicholas Day:

The next big event in Advent is St. Nicholas Day which is probably before the 2nd Sunday. Depending on how you celebrate, you might want to make this a box all it's own. I have quite a collection of Santas St. Nicholas figures which I like to have out in time for his Big Day. I've always hung the stockings (which he fills for his feast on Dec. 6) at the beginning of Advent, but if we're trying to make the task manageable, these can be hung on the 5th and put out with the figurines. This is a good day to decorate the mantelpiece, so put all those decorations in the St. Nick box!

Second Sunday in Advent:

For the sake of simplicity and continuing with the preparation theme, this is a good week to do some more decorating around the house. You might put up the outdoor decorations or make your dining room festive.

Maybe this is a good time to acknowledge that the house can get a bit...cluttered...with all these new decorations out, so I will often put some of the everyday decor into the Advent boxes to reduce that problem.  That way I don't have to hunt for it when Christmas is over; it's already in the box waiting to go back on the table when I put the Christmas stuff away!

Third Sunday in Advent:

This is Gaudete Sunday where the theme is "Rejoice" because Christmas is near! This is when I like to finish the decorating by putting up (and decorating) the Christmas tree and finally getting the decorations done outdoors if they're not done already.  This is probably the week to make sure you have your OAntiphon house ready to go. Make sure that's in the storage box! True confessions: Mine is not in the box. I don't have one. I've always wanted to make one, but never got around to it!

Fourth Sunday in Advent:

If you've been following along, adding some new decorations each week, it's probably all done by now and you can enjoy it through Epiphany on January 6! The 4th week is often very short, but if you had sickness in the house or something came up, you have this weekend to finish your decorating. If you're a purist who waits to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, that's fine, too.

Taking it all down :-(

Are you already worried about putting it all away and getting your house clean in one day? Not me. I hate erasing all traces of Christmas overnight; I like the joy of the holiday to linger! I also rarely have the time or energy to do it all at once. ;-)

I generally take everything down in reverse order, but as long as you put everything back in their appropriately labeled boxes, it doesn't really matter.

These days we have two Epiphanies: January 6 and the USCCB-declared Epiphany Sunday. Since Tom's birthday is the 6th, we just go ahead and celebrate Epiphany on the appropriate Sunday with the USCCB. Our neighborhood has declared that outdoor decorations must be removed by the 6th, so that's the only hard-and-fast rule we follow regarding un-decorating.

If my tree is Live and on it's last legs, it's probably one of the first things to go after the 6th; if not, I leave it up and lit every night. Other than that, I just do a little each weekend...putting things back in their corresponding boxes for the next year! I don't feel compelled to have the house clear of decorations until February 2, Candlemas, which some say is the official End of Christmas.

There now. I've neglected all my chores for the day in order to bring you this post. ;-) Such a sacrifice, right? Let me know what you think and what might improve this plan! Does it sound like it would work for you?

I love Advent. I love preparing for the coming of the Christ-child, and the candles, and the lights on the houses. I love immersing myself in all the spiritual side of Advent and Christmas and trying not to be overwhelmed or disheartened by the more materialistic side. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I am terrible because I can't wait, lol. It would be better for me to be more orgainized!


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