Why My Family isn’t Doing Advent

To say Advent has been on my mind a while would be an understatement. In late June or August, I wrote an article about Advent, scheduled for the beginning of Advent, for Catholic Sistas. In it, I encouraged readers,

So, as we enter Advent this year, I encourage all of us to spend some time focusing on how we are a living Sacramental. Commit to a Work of Mercy each day during Advent, knowing you’ll repeat some several times. Don’t be afraid to take the Good News and Joy of the Season to those to whom you may initially be afraid to reach out.

Recognize Christ in your neighbor, and better yet, be Christ to others.

It is our duty and our sacred responsibility.

As the days crept closer to Advent, I began reading other fantastic bloggers’ ideas of celebrating Advent with their families. I wanted to try the Jesse Tree with my kids, I envisioned beautiful discussions centered on faith and Advent (and preparing our hearts and homes), and I had every intention of doing something to “joyfully anticipate” the coming of Christmas. I wanted to keep the secular away from the religious origination of Christmas, since Christmas is to be celebrated beginning Christmas Day – and going for twelve days after. I even developed a beautiful Reflection on O Antiphons for the Military Family – something which will be released tomorrow through the Military Council of Catholic Women-Worldwide!

And, before the first week of Advent, I realized I was overwhelmed. I was daunted by the task of “running Advent smoothly.”

Then, the first week hit, and the kids were down with the flu – or, an adverse reaction to flu shots. Given the kids being sick, and my feelings of being overwhelmed, I didn’t even unpack our Advent wreath until last night – the eve of the second week of Advent.

I spent quite a bit of time in prayer during that first week of Advent, trying to discern how to approach Advent.

Why My Family isn'tDoingAdvent-2

I realized I was overwhelmed because I am not quite sure my family is ready to walk through the journey of Advent quite yet. I don’t want to sell my children short, but one is (almost) two; the other is five.

The two year old is having a good day when I can coax her to say “Amen!” to dinner prayers, and when she does her version of the Sign of the Cross as we enter church.

The five year old could care less about the daily changes on the Jesse Tree:

  • He’s currently stuck on the second day, in which we discuss Adam and Eve, their disobedience to God’s will, and how we try very hard to make God smile through obeying His will.
  • We are stuck on the ways he can incorporate his choices during his daily routine to reflect Mommy Mary’s yes to God’s will, rather than rejecting God’s will.
  • We are stuck on the notion that Satan tempts all of us, and the reason babies get baptized is so they can have a clean slate to learn to make God smile.
  • We are focusing on learning the Lord’s Prayer – even if the translation will be (hopefully) clarified and changed.
  • We are focusing on nightly prayers.
  • We are focusing on acting appropriately in church.

The root of my overwhelmed feelings was trying to do too much. I was trying to do everything, and not recognizing my need, let alone my family’s need to take things slowly.

I have been accused in the past as being “intense,” when it comes to my Faith. And, it’s true – I can get intense. I like to think the word “passionate” is more applicable, but the feelings are still the same. The person discussing Faith with me, and on the receiving end of my soap box, can feel a little intimidated and a little put off at the notion of faith-based conversations.

And, I have no doubt, in my zeal to “do all things Catholic,” that intensity has a tendency to make my five year old bristle.

So, the more the first week progressed, the more I realized I needed to cut my family some slack. We won’t be lighting the Advent candles on our wreath this year. But, we will still have Faith-based discussions as we are able.

Instead, I will be having an Advent I can spiritually handle – one which forces me, as an individual living a life of interior prayer, to cut back on my intensity.

An Advent which forces me to work on my own individual prayer life.

An Advent where I work less at being a Pharisee, and more like being a Disciple.

I am, hands-down, impressed at the mothers and families who all have family-reflective Advents. But, that is not me. Not this year.

And, to any other Christian mama out there, worried they aren’t “doing Advent right,” may I impart this little reminder – there is no “one way,” and there is no “right way,” to have the perfect Advent.

From this Catholic mommy blogger to the reader feeling overwhelmed, I’m giving you permission to meet yourself where you are at – to not feel guilty if you aren’t having an Advent you either wanted, or envisioned. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states in section 26,

Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life.

I can’t force faith (with a little “f”) on my family. I can optimize opportunities for them to explore faith, learn faith, and grow in faith. And, I am recognizing the best way to do that is to allow the faith (and Faith) to weave into natural conversation, rather than trying to do “the best Advent,” or “the best Lent.”

So, this year, my family gets a pass on Advent. We will journey as a family through Advent in years to come, but this year?

Advent is about my personal journey – of faith, and in Faith.

16 thoughts on “Why My Family isn’t Doing Advent

  1. Kristi is right there with you. Plans for a focused, simplistic Advent fell apart amidst strep, type B flu, moving, and the entire household being hit with type A flu…it just hasn’t happened for us yet. She decided that she’d throw the plans out the window and follow the lead of God and her family. Solidarity!

    1. 😳😳 Holy cow! Such a bummer about all the sickness! We’re still fighting something with our Lil’ Miss – guessing allergies at this point, but OTC isn’t working, and wanting to wait for her 2 year checkup before heading back in.

      Sometimes, I think we have to just follow the lead of God, and our vocations, and recognize that may be the best we can do – finding the beauty of our relationship in the moment of surrender!

  2. Don’t feel bad. I had great hopes also this Advent then the flu hit, and I went to the doctor and now it has hit again and going back tomorrow. Also Christmas shopping, leaves falling off of trees so that means yard work, and a whole slew of other things. I went three days and did not even light my candle on my Advent wreath.

    Then of course making time to go to Mass in between all of this, and penance service, and Holy Day of Obligation, then regular Mass. Got to them all though!

    I think the main thing is, is that our hearts are where they should be. I know yours is. I always think Him for this blessed season that even though we are burning our candles on both ends, (well all except the one’s on my wreath) 🙂 there are those moments of reflection of what it is all about. To me that is the most important thing. Love and God Bless, SR

    1. Yay for you and making it to all the obligations!!

      I agree – the biggest success is when God knows where our hearts are, and He knows we would rather rest in Him. That is what counts.

      Many blessings to you, and I will keep you in prayers throughout this cold and flu season! 🤗

  3. We’ve had to make some changes to our usual Advent as well because of the move. We have an Advent wreath my 7 year old made out of construction paper and tape instead of our usual wreath with actual candles. We haven’t read any of our usual Advent stories. We’re just getting by, too. Thanks for the affirmation that that’s okay. 🙂

    Enjoy your simple Advent that is focused on your little family’s faith!

    (Also, I have tried for years to do a Jesse Tree with my kids, but we’ve never gotten past a couple days before abandoning it. Just not our jam. And that’s okay, too.)

    1. You are correct – some things just “aren’t for us,” and it is okay!!

      You enjoy your nomadic Advent – I’m sure there will be a story or two in there somewhere! 😉

  4. The emotion of this post just summed up another incredible faith practice – Sabbath. Sometimes we get so caught up in the “doing” of Advent that we forget to sit back and rest and enjoy the “being” of Advent – waiting and anticipating the coming of the Lord! Good for you for taking a year off for your family, in one sense – it’s okay to rest in order to be more ready next time. It’s okay to rest.

    1. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! You are so correct – it *is* okay to rest! Something many parents need to repeat often – until we internalize the message. So, so true!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. “An Advent where I work less on being Pharisee and more on being a disciple.”–LOVE IT! I don’t often have lofty goals for Advent, beyond lighting Advent candles, and most years that escapes me, too, as I realize (that first Sunday or Monday of Advent)–like everyone else in my city–that we need Advent candles and the stores are all sold out. This second week, we’re rocking an old purple and white candle, and I’m not sure what we’re going to burn next week . . . but I’ll worry about that in a few more days! 😉

    I did have hopes that we’d learn O Come, O Come Emmanuel with a different verse for each week. Again, halfway through week 2, my kids at least recognize the tune. It’s something.

    May your Advent truly be preparing your heart for Christmas this year! (And if you feel like you’ve already fallen off the wagon, no worries–there’s still time!)

    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      I’m glad that particular line stuck out to you – I sat at the screen, amazed at the wording which had come out. I didn’t realize that was how I felt at times. 😳😂

      Also, my daughter played with the Advent Wreath while I addressed cards the other day. She tossed the Gaudete candle down on the floor, cracking it in two places. I decided she doesn’t want joy in her house this Advent. 😂 So, we definitely won’t be lighting this weekend’s candle. Shame because it is pink – ahem, “Rose.”

      May your Advent be spiritually fruitful and rewarding for you and your family, as well! 🤗🤗

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