Advent & Christmas 2015, What Worked & What Didn’t 

2015-12-20 11.32.17

unrelated slightly crosseyed baby pic

I know Christmas was a while ago. But my dad keeps reminding me it is still the Christmas Season (Til the Baptism of the Lord) So I am taking that as a big OK to keep talking about Christmas! And I never did a photo dump post so this can break two ornaments with one stone.

Our Christmas traditions are still evolving, and every year I try some new things and nix some others, but its usually based on guesses and fuzzy memories, so I am hoping this post can help next year when I am trying to to remember/decide what we should do for Christmas 2016 and beyond.

 What Worked

This Advent we did some things that went really well, things like

Advent wreath prayers

(almost) Every night immediately after supper we lit the candle(s) and sang O Come Emanuel and said a decade of the rosary (singing lots of the Hail Mary’s) and then blew them out and opened the advent calendar and ate a candy. Simple and short and we managed to actually get it in pretty much every day.

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St. Nicholas Day

We made St. Nicks Day into a fun family day since it happened to be on a weekend. Putting shoes out and getting a gift and chocolates in them is a new tradition for us (didn’t grow up doing it) but how can we not! So much fun and the perfect day for new Jammies and the Play Mobil Nativity set as a family gift.

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Decorating on Gaudete (pink) Sunday

My plan was to get a (real) tree on Pink Sunday, but we ended up being out of town that weekend so we got it a few days later. But it was nice and close to Christmas to decorate is and the live tree lasted to epiphany without getting to dry and dead. I also brought out most of the Christmas decorations bit by bit after that day, but saved some of the favourites til Christmas Eve (including the Christmas plates and cups) and we kept everything up and out and in use all through the 12 days.

Oh what a difference a day makes

Oh what a difference a day makes

The magic of the Christmas Village

The magic of the Christmas Village – and the smear on the TV

Overall Advent Philosophy

Do one less Christmas thing – and one more advent thing. I had all our gifts bought before advent, so there was no shopping, but other than that didn’t worry too much about avoiding Christmas things during advent. We went to see Christmas lights and a Christmas festival, we read Christmas books and drank egg nog. I need to remember to buy candy canes way ahead of time next year because they were sold out by the time I went to look for them (again!). We did try to save the feasting til the big day, so during the 12 days of Christmas we broke out treats and activities that we hadn’t had in a year and it made the Christmas season it’s own kind of special. I want to do that even more next year.

two of my sisters and I (and tessa) at a family gathering

two of my sisters and I (and tessa) at a family gathering

Hosted Christmas Eve Gathering

We invited my family who was all in town over to our house for Christmas Eve. My mom and I made the family recipe of Tortiere (a traditional French Canadian meat pie) together and we had a pretty simple but delicious meal. We had a Gingerbread house for the kids to decorate, and they each opened one gift. We all did the last night of Advent prayers all together and played games until people (some of whom were planning to go to Mass at Midnight) started to head home.Our kids went to bed at about the usual time or a little later, there was no way they would have done well staying up or being woken up for Midnight Mass. It was so much fun to have a family gathering with all the fun of Christmas but not the chaos and distraction of gifts – just focus on the gift of the presence of our family members!

This the Advent Log at my parents house in all it's glory

This the Advent Log at my parents house in all it’s glory

Christmas Morning Mass

We tossed around the idea of going to Midnight Mass but settled on our usual Mass time at 9 am. It worked out pretty well. The kids woke up and found their stockings and “Santa” gifts (that St. Nicholas/Santa [same person] delivered on  behalf of Baby Jesus) which were one toy per kid, a Cat.Chat CD, a few new clothes they needed and a big Candy Cane. But we were able to open gifts while skyping the grandparents who are out of town and still get them dressed and to Mass on time, and Mass was not crowded at all, and not long and they did about as well as they do on a normal Sunday.

opening the stockings

opening the stockings

Unwraping their present

Unwraping their present

After Mass we headed to my parents house where the kids cousin and aunties and uncles and grandparents where, and a mountain of presents! Crazy overwhelming abundance of food and wrapping paper and new things for everyone. A wonderful exhausting day! And apparently an unplugged one – I can’t find any pictures that I took, but I think my sisters were snapping some on their “real” cameras. Since adult colouring books were a hot gift this year, we did lots of that, including a book my mom got with dot-to-dots, with A THOUSAND dots in each one! INSANE. And played card games and board games and the dice game Tenzi (which is SO fun, I heard about it from Megan) And then the most delicious late lunch/early supper of Turkey and all the fixins. YUM2015-12-25 17.34.58

What Didn’t

Jesse Tree

Maybe one year… I have high hopes. I like what I have see some families do, families who are at the stage of doing some organized morning routine with prayer etc. working Jesse Tree readings into that part of the day.We are not at that phase yet.

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We did do some Christmas crafts!

O Antiphons

I would love to have some visual decoration or something to use for these last few days of Advent but I haven’t settled on something yet, so maybe one year soon.

Traveling 3 Wise Men

This is so sweet! Our Church even does it with the huge statues slowly moving across the altar toward the nativity scene in the Masses between Christmas and Nativity and the kids see it and totally get it, so I would love to do it at home. It will have to wait another year or two because we are still at the point where the whole cast of characters of the Nativity Scene just get stashed in the bushes.

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Put Baby Jesus in the Manger on Christmas Day

I planned to do this and hid Baby Jesus all through Advent, and then just never got him out until days and days after Christmas when I thought of it. When all the nativity set pieces are just being stashed around it doesn’t make as powerful of an impact.

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No joke. It ended up looking something like this every day

 Other things I would like to do Eventually:

Christmas caroling (maybe at some homes for the elderly?)

Send Christmas cards

Delivering goodies to neighbors and friends

Make plans  to spend the 12 days of Christmas doing all the fun Christmas things

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We did manage to make some Christmas Cookies – Thanks Rosie!!

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Decorating cookies with friends

We did have a beautiful Christmas and praise the Lord no one got sick (until New Years) and I am so grateful for my wonderful generous family. Hope you all had a wonderful one too!

Our Christmases through the years

Our Christmases through the years


About Amy

Wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, Godmother, all those good things any many more. Crafter, extrovert, life-long-learner just for the fun of it, when my 4 little (and not so little) babies give me the chance for anything beyond keeping them fed and clean and our lives relatively calm and peaceful.
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6 Responses to Advent & Christmas 2015, What Worked & What Didn’t 

  1. Tara says:

    Thanks for this very real post, Amy! It’s nice to know other mothers are working at creating these traditions slowly. It’s overwhelming to see the volume of what some other mothers are doing all at once!
    We couldn’t even get it together with the nativity thing either! We can never find baby Jesus and the entire thing has been destroyed by the time Christmas actually arrives. I pick up tiny nativity bits until Easter…oh well! We tried! I also loved getting all my shopping done early and I did most of it online which was much less stressful and less time-consuming. I will be doing that again next year.


    • Amy says:

      Thanks Tara! Real is where it’s at! Yeah I love setting nativities up all sweetly in tender scenes… but if its gonna be kid friendly and something they are allowed to touch than I have learned to just lighten up and leave the still lifes til my retirement years


  2. Awe! It seemed like you guys still had a wonderfully, blessed Advent and Christmas. So many things did work and that’s awesome!


  3. Hannah S. says:

    Such nice traditions you all have! Although after all that, I’m still reeling from how awesome your parent’s advent log is! I totally wanna do that! I wonder if it would be a bit much to do both an advent log AND an advent wreath…?


  4. Beth Anne says:

    I’ve been doing the Jesse Tree for 3 years now and feel like next year will be my first successful year (maybe). Some of those bible verses are LONG and most days I don’t get to them. But I’m good at putting all the ornaments on the tree…sometimes 3 a day (shhh).


  5. Lauren says:

    I love that you took the time to write all this down. It will make you SUPER happy when future years roll around. Good job!


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