Repost with updates.
O God, who by Thy gracious Advent hast brought joy into this world, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace to prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.
Keeping our eyes on Christ is my family’s daily goal. During Advent it becomes even more important for us to work on keeping Christ in Christmas.
Our primary objective for keeping Christ in Christmas is to observe each liturgical season in it’s entirety.
Here are a few examples on how we try to keep the focus on Him during Advent & Christmas.
The focus of Advent is preparation for the coming of the Lord -- both in commemoration of His Nativity and His coming again at the end of time… The Christmas season does not begin until the first Mass at Christmas Eve, and doesn't end liturgically until the Octave of the Epiphany on January 14. It goes on in the spiritual sense until Candlemas on February 2, when all celebrations of Christ's Childhood give way to Septuagesima and Lent.
Our sole focus is preparing our hearts for Jesus.
- Simple practices that help us keep this a penitential season.
- Limited celebratory events. No extracurriculars. Similar to our Lenten practices.
- Advent List, Christkindl, Jesse Tree, Christmas, Novena, and more.
- We take a mock pilgrimage, Journey to Bethlehem. Journey To Bethlehem is an interactive walking tour from the recreated town of Nazareth to Bethlehem. The journey recreates the events that happened on the evening of Christ's birth.
- Decorations are focused on Christ, only. Nativities are the primary décor. The lights must wait for Christmas.
- Christmas music is limited (to the best of our ability) until Christmas day.
- Gift giving is not emphasized. That means no wish lists or presents stuffed under the tree. Instead, acts of charity are discussed and encouraged.
- Absolutely no Santa Claus.
- All family members receive the sacrament of Confession during the Third and Fourth Sunday of Advent.
- All family members present their hearts (gifts) during the Third and Fourth Sunday of Advent. This is done by way of Adoration. We each leave a wooden heart at the nativity manager in Church. The heart symbolizes their offering for Jesus. Our hearts are with Christ at His time of birth. The hearts are picked up during the Christmas season and placed on the family altar as a reminder of our offering.
40 days after giving birth, Mary goes to the Temple to be purified and to "redeem" Jesus per the Old Testament Law of the firstborn. Christmas truly ends as a Season with Candlemas and the beginning of Septuagesima.
- Put a small offering of gifts under the tree for the children on Christmas Eve.
- Visit Our Lord and Savior at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Christmas Day.
- We visit Him before we ever turn towards a present. No opening any gifts on Christmas eve or Christmas morning – CHRIST IS FIRST!
- Have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas morning.
- Happy birthday, cake, and the works.
- Keep the Christmas decor up for the entire span of the Christmas season. (Many think we’re nuts or lazy but it’s done all for His glory!)
- REJOICE!!! Sing and play Christmas music all season!
- Increase daily Mass attendance.
It is, that, from the day itself of our Saviour's Birth even to the day of our Lady's Purification, there is, in the Calendar,an extraordinary richness of Saints' Feasts, doing homage to the master feast of Bethlehem, and clustering in adoring love round the Crib of the Infant-God.
~ "The Mystery of Christmas" from Dom Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year"