If you've not seen the movie Fiddler on the Roof, it is well worth your time to watch it. I've watched this movie since I was a child and am still watching it. It is one of the movies that the characters change as you get older.
One of my favorite lines in the movie is regarding traditions. Tevye says,
"Traditions and it is because of our traditions everyone of us knows who he is and what God expects him to be."
Traditions define us. Our Catholic faith is so rich in traditions and all of them are very purposeful. From all the bells and whistles, to the priest's cassock, to the Twelve days of Christmas, to the stain glass windows, to the colors used in paintings, and many, many more. I love them. I crave them. It makes our faith so rich, so meaningful.
How was our Christmas? It was good. Our kids were home, my family was here, all was good, but to be honest it felt out of order. I felt a huge disconnect from our domestic church to the proper liturgical way to celebrate the coming of Christ. I vow next year to change that. I want to implement as many of the churches traditions in our home next year.
This year, we put the tree and all other decorations up the First Sunday of Advent. It felt backwards. I felt like I decorated for the party way to early. Christmas music was playing a lot of the time, but something inside me felt wrong. We are to be preparing our hearts and minds for His coming. For me, I want to save the decorating, the eating, the cheer for AFTER Christmas. I love the order that it creates.
The Jesse Tree.
I want to put only this tree up on the first Sunday of Advent along with our Advent wreath. A couple years ago, I spent in inordinate amount of time organizing a beautiful Jesse Tree. I bought real ornaments to go with each reading from Scripture. They are beautiful. I want our children to focus on the lineage that came before and led up to the birth of Christ. It is so crazy that we literally have Christ's blood within us.
The Advent Wreath.
I love our advent wreath. I bought this our first year of marriage and love it every year. They remind me of the ones used in Church. I love that our children see the connection. The advent wreath is made of evergreens signifying continuous life. The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. We then put five red berries throughout the wreath to remind us of the five wounds of Christ. We have three purple and one pink candle. "The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead. "
The Feast of St. Nicholas Dec. 6th
The concept of stockings came from St. Nicholas so it seems fitting that this is the day their stockings are filled. I need to do a little more thinking about what I wish to fill their stockings with so it becomes a traditional thing like a new book or slippers. We have brunch afterwards. I plan on baking speculaas cookies next year and delivering them to our neighbors.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Party. December 12
We hosted our first annual party this year and it was wonderful. What a celebration of life! There were children everywhere and great Mexican food. I love that Our Lady of Guadalupe came and such a critical time to the people in defense of human life and we are celebrating the birth of Our Lord a few weeks later. She came to defend babies and we are celebrating babies. I love it.
The Feast of St. Lucy and the day my father passed into eternal life December 13th
I love this day for so many reasons. I love the girls excitement to dress up and serve John and Dominic breakfast in bed. Since John is an Optometrist, St. Lucy is the patron of the eyes so that is meaningful for his work.
John and I planned on taking the kids caroling or wassailing this year, but we had several come down with the flu so that will be top on our list for next year so WATCH OUT! We will be singing our little lungs out outside your window. I love these lost traditions and what a beautiful way to pass on the faith.
We go to confession as a family the week before Christmas so our souls are clean.
We also have several personal traditions that I love. They each received a set of Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve. Next year, I think I will get John and I each a pair. I know this is small, but I love the family unity it creates. I love the celebrating and delighting in each other. I think these are the things that bring children home when they are grown or wayward.
John had read several blogs about attending all the masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Typically, that would be three masses in all. I hope so much to do this next year. Ideally, I would love to present the kids with their new Christmas outfit to attend the masses in. We will then go to Christmas mass at 5:00 PM and come home and have a appetizer feast. I hope to make several appetizers and then we can all put up and decorate the Christmas tree before or after we go to mass. We would then like to take them back to midnight mass. Before we go, I would like to give them their pajamas and exchange the gifts of our family name draw.
In the morning, we plan on opening the gifts from Santa and from John and I. We will then attend morning mass together and then home for a great brunch. I plan on having our Christmas meal late evening.
I would love to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas in some form. I haven't come up with any ideas yet so would love any suggestions on this great Catholic tradition.
The Feast of Epiphany January 6
This is the day the three kings arrived to visit our Lord. I plan this year to have an Epiphany party in which the kids will get their ornament for the year. I've started buying them each an ornament since I was pregnant with Dominic. I usually pick something that reminds me of something they did or loved that year. It is really fun to look through the ornaments and remember when Dominic loved Bob the Builder. He doesn't remember loving that show, but the ornament reminds us of it every year.
We plan on attending the Nutcracker Ballet every year as a family. I also get a Nutcracker every year also to remind us of something about our family. Our Nutcracker collection is getting pretty good. The kids love pulling these out every year and usually remember why we bought each one. I buy the ornaments and Nutcrackers after Christmas because of the great sales. This year, I found an Irish Nutcracker and a German Nutcracker. I couldn't believe it! Our two lineages! We also fell in love with a great movie series on Netflix called Sissi. It is in German with English subtitles, but the kids loved it! So, our German Nutcracker will remind us of our introduction to Sissi. A beautiful tale of romance, being a lady, babies, and ball gowns. I especially loved the first two movies in the collection.
So, here is to a renewed attempt to celebrate the Church year in our home.