Advent 2019 - Preparing Our Hearts and Home

Advent, the season of preparation. It is in this time that we make ready our hearts and homes for the coming of Christmas, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are a few things that we do each year to prepare in this way. We say the Saint Andrew's Christmas Novena. This prayer gets stuck in my head on repeat, and just really instills that sense of "Christmas is coming", as well as grounding us in prayer during this time.

15x each day we say:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and the moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through the merits of Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

We dig out our Advent wreath and fill it with evergreen branches that we collect from the yard, maybe a few pine cones or leftover flowers. Any beautiful plants that we can find this time of year go in.

For the past two years, we have also been making citrus garlands. These shine beautifully when hung in windows and brighten up those cold and all-too-long winter days. 

Last year, I held off on decorating and on putting up our tree until the very end of Advent. And though doing it that way may be technically correct, I just never really felt like I got enough Christmas. We have very long winters, and when it is time to pack up those lights and decorations it is a sad day in our home. We wait until Epiphany, or sometimes even Candlemas, but still, it was not long enough. 

My children loved making these purple and rose paper chains on the first Sunday of Advent

So this year I am bucking the rules and setting out my Christmas things right around the beginning of Advent. We're stretching out the season of joy and celebration this year, and yes that will include much waiting and preparing of our hearts and homes, but we can do that with sparkly twinkle lights and red berries on our tables. I hear that Kathryn Whitaker is an early decorator too, so I'll take comfort in that. 

We also changed out our holy card decor. I've struggled for years with how to display these beautiful cards, and my current solution is to have most of them in a drawer and a few on display throughout our home and change them out with the seasons. We have so many. If you've found a great way of displaying all your holy cards at once, please let me know. Until I have a home chapel, this is what we'll do. 

The candles, the smells, the fruit, and our the simple but hearty food that we are cooking this time of year all contribute to this atmosphere of cozy winter, joyful preparation, this beautiful season of Advent.