Updated December 2, 2017
“The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and is also the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.
The final days of Advent from December 17 to 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas.” From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Advent
Here are a few ideas for Advent — simple activities for moving into the true spirit of the season. The first is a personal memory that warms my heart every time I think of it.
Seeing Jesus In Many Faces
A framed picture of Santa Clause (St. Nicholas) sits on my desk regardless of the season. With his bright smile and sparkling eyes, it still reminds me, “Yes, there really is a Santa Clause.” That Santa’s joyful smile and bright eyes are constant reminders of how we look when carrying the gifts of faith, hope and love into the world. It was a daily reminder from God saying, “You can make things happen here: I’m present.” That energy filled our offices with a joy remarked on by visitors who heard laughter greeting them as they entered. Laughter is a sign of hearts open to receiving the energy of God’s presence and sharing it with the world. It was His presence that made us both joyful and successful.
Perhaps you have a favorite Christmas card that reminds you of Christmas all year long. If not, I recommend discovering one; It brings great joy every time it comes into sight, reminding us how when the Son of God became man, he regained for us our birthright as beings made in the Likeness of God.
For more on this, go to Advent: Preparing Our Spirits for Christmas I and Advent: Preparing Our Spirits for Christmas II.
Fill your holidays with joy and laughter. It’s priceless!
Set the Stage by Creating an Advent Wreath
This simple family project can become a weekly reminder that we humbly await the birth of Jesus Christ. All you need is a natural evergreen wreath and four candles. Place the wreath on a table and stand the candles at its center. The candles may be violet and white or all of either color. Children love to participate in holiday activities. Depending on their age, they can help by gathering greens for the wreath, putting it together and placing the candles in holders at the wreath’s center.
On the four Sundays before Christmas (Dec 4, 10, 17 and 24) light the candles, say a short prayer and sing a Christmas carol. Rituals always have added meaning when refreshments are included. In the spirit of Advent, these should be simple.
Caution: Make sure the candles are completely extinguished before leaving them unattended. If you have concerns about them, there are “candles” that light without an actual flame, still creating a warm glow. You’ll find them at most candle shops.
Creating a Spiral Walk for Adults and Children
Several years ago I shared a beautiful experience with a family who have four daughters. Their dad built a yurt, a round structure surrounded by temporary walls and a roof to protect people from the weather. The mom and four girls gathered rocks on their daily walks and marked a path in the shape of an infinity sign inside the yurt. Guests were invited to join them in “walking the spiral” with lit candles, spreading light out into the world. Those who completed their walk joined those waiting their turn, all humming Silent Night.
Not everyone can undertake such an ambitious activity. Here are instructions for adults, followed by those for children to participate in this sacred activity without leaving your home.
Note: The open circle is one in which the end point does not meet the beginning, but continues outside of it creating the beginning of a spiral. The spiral signifies possibilities.
An Imaginal Spiral Walk For Adults:
Have someone slowly read these instructions to you — or record them on your cell phone and play them back, no more than three times a day.
Sit in a comfortable position, feet on the floor, arms in your lap or on the arm rests. Close your eyes, and breathe out three times (breathing out is a long, slow gentle exhalation through the lips followed by natural breathing.) With your eyes remaining closed, “See, feel and sense yourself standing at the midpoint of an infinity sign and begin to walk in a counter-clockwise direction. As you walk, think of something no longer beneficial to your life and let it go. Continue to imagine yourself walking and when you return to the mid-point, see yourself walking around the remaining loop in a clockwise direction as you see something beneficial come into your life. When you’ve returned to the mid-point, sit quietly for a minute. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth one time and open your eyes.
Now for the Children’s Spiral Walk
For children I suggest they walk a single open circle in waking life. This can be done by tamping down a few inches of snow or marking the circle with chalk or washable spray paint on a driveway or sidewalk. Create an entrance/exit in the circle by overlapping the end about a foot above the beginning. Instruct the children to walk the circle individually, each reaching out their hands and imagining the light of love beaming over the world. As each child leaves through the open end, have them join the others, as they hum Silent Night. A hot drink and treat are the perfect ending for this activity.
Children are very creative, so expect to see variations of this. It’s all perfect in the end.
If you have ideas for Advent/Christmas activities, share them, please. You can reach me by e-mailing to http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meditate to Enya’s CD And Winter Came, a Classic Released in 2008
This CD is not a collection of traditional carols. It’s Enya at her best, especially its musical story about the flight of angels on Christmas Eve. All required of us is to sit back, close our eyes and allow ourselves to be transported by the music. A wonderful way to hear and sense a bit of what the angels sing on Christmas Eve.
May all the blessings of Christmas shine upon you!