Advent and Christmas Traditions

Blessed Feast of St. Nicholas! I’m linking up today with day 2 of a fun holiday linkup with super cute Victoria and Sarah and sharing my favorite holiday traditions! Our Advent and Christmas seasons are of course going to look a little different this year with a baby due this Saturday. A couple things we do intend to do is really savor/enjoy and simplify the seasons as best we can! So far we have done a bit of decorating and have had our tree up since right after Thanksgiving. That isn’t something we normally rush to do, but we were definitely excited for that this year. We didn’t purchase any new decor and just re-purposed some items we already have, besides the tree itself (Patrick and I both grew up with real ones). One thing I wouldn’t mind adding though is a nice quality Nativity set. Maybe I need to check out post-Christmas sales for that. We also have been enjoying lots of holiday music, particularly the Pentatonix! Jimp loves this video.

In terms of traditions, we are trying a couple of new things this year. First, we finally put together our Advent wreath and have been lighting it during dinner and in the evenings. I didn’t grow up with this tradition, but now that Jimp is older, I am hoping to get into the habit of incorporating more liturgical traditions.  If you’re not familiar with Advent wreaths, there are fours candles to represent the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each Sunday, a new one is lit. The three purple candles represent our prayer and penance (for weeks 1, 2, and 4) as we prepare for the birth of our Savior. The third week, we light the rose (or pink) candle to represent our joy in knowing what’s to come! We are continuing to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, which I love and have done for several years.

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Another new tradition we are starting is a Reverse Advent calendar, which I stumbled across on good ol’ Pinterest. The idea is that each day during Advent, you place an item in a container to donate to others, instead of a traditional calendar where you get something new each day. Surprisingly Jimp seems to really get it and has been enjoying putting in something new each day in the box. Just the other day, he grabbed a box of cereal from the pantry on his own and put it in there, without me asking (cue my mom heart melting). I normally just tell him it’s for our “friends” who might not have enough food at their houses and he seems to get it. Here is our box on Day 2 of Advent:

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For Christmas, we started a new tradition last year of Secret Santa with Patrick’s family which is super fun and definitely has simplified gift giving as the family grows! Patrick’s family loves gift-giving and we all take turns opening our gifts together. So much fun and makes opening all presents super exciting. The past several years, we have done Christmas Eve dinner with my dad’s side of the family (every year since I can remember, actually), Mass followed by brunch with my immediate family on Christmas morning, and Christmas dinner with Patrick’s family. We mainly plan to stay home this year though to recover, but if I feel up to it, my goal is making it to Christmas Mass and taking a festive family photo with the decorations (my family’s tradition). Below is our photo from last year and I dug up one from Patrick’s and my first married Christmas, complete with 16ish week baby bump!

Christmas 2015

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On a random note, we have really enjoyed taking family walks over the past couple of years around our neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. I grew up in the same neighborhood but don’t remember it being this festive as a kid! Last year, we did Santa pictures at the Mall for the first time. I will have to find it and upload it later on. I like the idea of it for this year, but almost 40 weeks pregnant at the mall during Christmas sounds like a really bad idea! ;D

I almost forgot one final tradition…since I was in junior high, some dear family friends have hosted a potluck and White Elephant gift exchange in the day or two after Christmas for our friend group…lots of the group have since moved away and are married with kids, but if they’re in town they’re at the party. It has since evolved to include any local friends and kiddos and into an epic gathering, but it’s something I look forward to every year!

Check out Victoria’s and Sarah’s blogs for lots of of fun holiday traditions! Yesterday the link-up was to post your wishlist. I normally am not a Christmas list person as I like to surprised, but since we had to make one for Secret Santa, here are a few things I “wished” for: a new pretty slow cooker for some post-baby freezer meals, this print from Hatch Prints to help dress up some bare walls, this cozy cardigan, and a healthy nail polish set.

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