How’s your Advent going? Good? Great? Or… um, yeah… about that….
Maybe you’re behind on your Jesse Tree and Advent calendar. This year, just hearing about how other’s Advent seasons are going just makes you tired. Maybe you’re having a great Advent this year and are all caught up! Regardless of how your Advent season is going, let’s pick ourselves up, stop the catch up game, and finish strong together! Here are some hacks to use to make things simple and focused for this last week of Advent.
1. Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
If you haven’t heard of the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, you should discover it during this last week of Advent. This prayer is so powerful! Praying it fifteen times a day can seem daunting, but you can divide the prayers out throughout the day, five before each meal, while doing dishes, etc.
Anyone else loosing count, though? The above video does the whole novena, including a space for your personal intention all fifteen times. It’s beautifully done. Save it to your phone, computer, or tablet and your novena will be complete!
2. Jesse tree
This year my kids have been on top of things in the Jesse Tree department! They are ready for the ornament of the day every morning after breakfast. As much as I would love to make all the little felt ornaments, it hasn’t happened. So I ordered this pop up book with ornaments and little storybook. The kids LOVE it and can’t wait to open the next tab after the short story has been read.
This morning we did have to do a little catch up, but they didn’t mind at all. If you have a lot of catch up, double up the days for the next week instead of burning yourself out. Didn’t know about Jesse Tree until too late? No problem, order the book here for next year.
3. Advent wreath
Have you been lighting your candles each week? Again, my kids and husband have been keeping up with this better than I have. We didn’t have our wreath this year, so I picked up four pillar candles and set them on a plate, went outside and cut some greens on a nature walk with the kids and boom! Instant Advent wreath (and only one spider came in with the fresh greens!).
If you can’t find colored candles, no worries! Just grab candles in any Advent-y or neutral color, you can add ribbon or other colored decoration if you wish like the above picture. Worried about toxins or soot from cheap candles? Order some beeswax ones now for next year!
4. Journals and devotionals
Oh, you had the best intentions for a special Advent devotion, spiritual reading or journal you ordered specifically for this year? Stop. Breathe. Don’t try to catch up and ruin the simplicity or anticipation of the season we are in. If you are doing a spiritual reading, just pick up where you are and let it continue through the Christmas season or pick back up after Epiphany. If a devotion or journal, start on today’s reading and soak it in! If you have time, go back to fill in the blanks. This year’s Blessed Is She journal is especially good as they tell you to handle missed days this way in the introduction.
5. Get to Confession
There is still time to go! Look in your bulletin, online, or even just call your priests to see if they have time to schedule confession. Then you can start out the Christmas celebration with a clean slate and a clean soul! Stop for some adoration when you are done for a little extra soul-food.
There are a lot of strong opinions on when to start playing Christmas music, but we can all agree there are some great Advent/Christmas worthy songs and albums out there. Whatever your preference, pick some that really get you into the season of anticipation and make the preparations and busy baking, wrapping and errands with some joy and worship in your step.
Christmas is a week away! There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the projects and acts of service you had wanted too! So let’s think creatively together. What are ways you can serve people with things you are already doing?
Baking up a storm? Make up some extra plates and send the kids out to give them to neighbors.
Shoveling your walk? Go ahead and extend to take care of your neighbor- even, no, especially if they are a little Scrooge-like.
Wrapping gifts? Invite some friends over and do it together while the kids play outside.
Going through your pantries to make a feast? Grab anything you won’t be using, bag it up and stick it in the trunk, to give it to the food pantry when you head to church next.
Heading to the grocery store and are blessed with a budget large enough? Buy two of everything and drop it off (ding, dong, ditch style) at the home of someone who is having a difficult time this year.
8. Make a Plan for Mass!
This year is AWESOME! SO MANY MASSES! I mean, we all aspire to head to daily mass, maybe this will get us in the habit! In all seriousness, check the schedules of the masses around you and make a plan based on your family’s needs. Remember Sunday AND Christmas are both beautiful days of obligation. No two-fers this year!