Well Hello, Advent. We Meet Again.

Someone reminded me it was Advent this Sunday.  Yikes.

But it doesn’t have to be that bad, and indeed it should not be, as Simcha reminds us.  Here are our plans for 2014, thrown out there not as an example to emulate, but so that you can have that sordid Catholic reality-show experience without needing cable.

1. The Great Advent vs. Christmas Debate

Left to my own devices, I’d cover my house in a giant purple tarp and not come out until midnight on the 24th/25th.  Which is why I have to be married, for my own safety.

Meanwhile, all around us, our good Christian neighbors are running their Christmas season from the day after Thanksgiving until dawn on December 26th.  The pressure gets to you.  It’s hard to be purple when everyone else is red and green.

Enter our solution: Convertible Decorations.

Sometime in early Advent, possibly as soon as the first Sunday, the spouse and children will haul out and set up the fake Christmas Advent Tree.  Until the 24th, it gets just white lights and few things I’ll mention below.  And then, magically on the 24th, we cover it with ornaments and turns into a Christmas Tree!

These are great.  Highly recommended.

To that end, a friend of mine brought home from her travels a Miffy (the bunny) Christmas tree decoration.  If you squint and peer closely, you’ll observe that it, too, is convertible.  It’s Advent Rabbits, then they turn into Christmas Bunnies without having to press a button or turn the thing around or anything.

It’s amazing what modern holiday technology can do these days.

2. Parties.

We’ll go to our neighbor’s Christmas drop-in.  You can skip everything else all December, but neighbors matter.   You go.

Also the grown-ups will put in a presence at the company party.  Nothing says Advent like continued employment.

Everything else is optional.

3. Advent Calendars

We have this reusable Advent calendar (it starts on December 1, I know!), and I like it very much.  I put it out, and the kids fight over work out a system for who does each day.  This plus whatever random ornaments flow into the home provide our Advent Tree decorating experience for the month.  No Jesse Tree here.  We aren’t that advanced.

4. Advent Wreaths

I just don’t even want to talk about it.

5. Cards and Gifts and Stuff

We owe our kinsmen their 2013 ornament-exchange items.  We made them out of dough, and the dog ate them off the tree, where I had cleverly placed them until I found suitable packaging.  So this year I took #2 to the craft store and we bought Bakelite.  We’ll see how that goes.  I am hopeful that we can get both 2013 and 2014 out the door before the three wise men come.

I never send Christmas cards, because I’m a bad person.  But I bought my daughters, who are crafty and sociable both, cardstock and stamps.  So if you are friends with them, you might get a card.

I can’t buy my kids’ Christmas presents until the last minute, because otherwise I’ll keep finding things they love, and they’ll end up spoiled or in debtors’ prison or something.

Yeah, no, I quit baking.  My kids make stuff though.  So does the grocery store.

6. Music

Wouldn’t it be great if we were one of those families that sang together?  Yes it would be.

Instead, we are divided into several camps, like a tortured holiday Venn Diagram.

Set A: Skilled Musicians.  Set composed of: Spouse, #1, #2, and the odd guest appearance by #4 because she is young but has obsessively precise pitch.  They will spend the next six weeks immersed in amazing classical choral settings.  Actually, the next 52 weeks, and then repeat.  It’s what they do.

Set B: People who sing Christmas Carols in the car, driving the other people in the car nuts.  Set composed of: Me, #2, #4, and sometimes #3.

Set C: People who listen to my favorite Advent music.  Set composed of: Me.

Here are some CD’s I like, not all of them strictly Advent-themed, but they work. The other one I really super extra like is Veni Emmanuel from Classical Academic Press.

FYI if you’re geeky that way, CAP has some free printable Latin Advent calendars, too.  Go to their resources page and click on the “Latin General” option.  I’m geeky, but insufficiently organized, so I haven’t used them yet.

For your general holiday music edification, Katie O’Keefe at the Beautiful Music Challenge has the tour of must-know hymns and carols, beginning here.

If you do nothing else for yourself in this life, memorize Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Then take a solemn vow to never, ever, sing some other song to the tune of Picardy during Mass.  Just no.  No. I said NO!  Stop that!  Bad! Cut it out!

Thank you.


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