By Anne Metz
“Advent is thus a favorable time to pray with greater intensity, to reserve to the spiritual life the important place it deserves.”
This powerful quote from Pope Francis gets to the heart of Advent. It is a time for us to prepare our souls for the coming birth of our Savior. However, Advent is often overlooked, considered a part of the Christmas season, or, even with good intentions, missed completely due to the busyness that comes with preparing for Christmas.
Let’s strive to make this year different. How can we truly enjoy Advent without getting caught up in all the busyness? All it takes is a little planning and intentionalism.
Buy Christmas Presents
A dear friend of mine does all her shopping before Advent begins. Is it because she is a Christmas fanatic? No! She does it because she wants to enjoy the season of Advent. By getting her shopping out of the way early, she is able to slow down in Advent and spiritually prepare her and her family’s hearts for the coming of Jesus.
She also subscribes to the 4-gift rule to simplify her shopping and cut down on the commercialism of Christmas. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the 4-gift rule means you buy one gift for each of the following categories:
Something you want
Something you need,
Something to wear
Something to read
Create an Advent Plan
Create a plan to have an intentional Advent. If you don’t, your spiritual life might get bulldozed by all the Christmas preparations and events that happen during this season. Make a list of things and activities you and your family might like to do during Advent.
- Advent calendars
- A Jesse Tree
- Daily spiritual readings
- Lighting an Advent wreath
- Reading books about Christ’s birth
- Performing corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.
An Alternative to The Elf
First of all, if you don’t want to participate in the Elf on the Shelf trend, you don’t have to. Your children will survive, I promise you! But if you like the idea of an elf, consider alternatives that help your children learn the true meaning of Christmas, like the Advent Angel or Mary on the Mantle.
If you do enjoy the Elf on the Shelf, consider using the elf to bring your children Bible verses featuring the Nativity Story. Whatever your elf tradition, again preparation is key. Plan out all el activities before Advent even begins. That way, instead of trying to figure out what your elf should do, you already know and that will alleviate a lot of stress and give your mind more time to focus on the upcoming joy of Christmas.
Decorate for Advent, not Christmas
To prepare your home and your heart for Advent, refrain from putting out all your Christmas decorations. Fill your home with the color of Advent—purple. Add purple swag to your mantle. Put out purple battery-operated candles. Set an Advent wreath on your kitchen table. The colors in your home will serve as a reminder that this is a season of preparation not celebration, as it will be in the Christmas season.
If this feels too difficult and you truly love your Christmas decorations, find a middle ground. For example, put up your Christmas tree but wait until Christmas Eve to add the ornaments.
By preparing for Advent now, you and your family will be able to better enjoy this season with space in your schedule for quiet contemplation and spiritual preparation.
When she’s not writing about faith, Anne Metz works for Growing Catholics, whose mission is to bring Scripture to all, especially tweens and teens.