Advent with Toddlers

Advent with Toddlers

In the comments on my Advent post below Cecilia’s mom asks whether I have any ideas about celebrating Advent with Isabella:

I have to admit I’m not sure, beyond an Advent calendar ( ALL the doors of which she still wants to open every day) and Advent wreath (Cecilia and fire don’t mix well) and explanations, how to make Advent more attainable for Cecilia, but I think our Church using more Latin may help as well. Let us know if you have any ideas. Or how to have a Christmas tree that stays standing with a toddler. smile

I have to confess I haven’t given the subject much thought. While we make it a point to say prayers with Isabella, to bring her to mass and to draw her attention to the altar during the consecration,  and to point out crucifixes and statues and images of Christ and the saints to name them and familiarize her with them, I still think of her religious education mostly in the future tense. I think this year, like last, our domestic Advent and Christmas preparations will probably be minimalist.

At some point in the next few weeks we buy a tree and decorate it and we’ll hang garlands and wreathes and set out our nativity scene and I suppose then we’ll name the figures for her and she’ll probably want to play with them. I still have to find our Advent wreath, forgot to do that last night.

I think we’ll wait on the Advent calendar and the Jesse Tree, both cherished memories from my childhood, until next year when she might have a greater attention span and understanding of what they mean. When I was growing up we did both of these but not consistently. Some years we did more, some years less. I like the domestic rituals and want to incorporate them into the fabric of our family; but I don’t feel the need to rush and do it all now.

I do feel occasional twinges of self-doubt when I see what other mothers are doing with their toddlers. For example The Bookworm put together a lovely Advent box for her little Cherub, who is about the same age as Bella. But I notice that many of the contents of the box were purchased for one of her older daughters. I think these things tend to develop over time. Is it really fair to compare what I am doing with your first child to what someone else is doing with her sixth or seventh?

We’re doing Christmas small this year and not spending much money. So I’m not going to go out and buy lots of new things that may not really be what Bella needs or wants. I don’t think Christmas should be a big shopping holiday anyway. So if something comes my way that seems especially appropriate for Bella, I’ll get it. Otherwise, I’m not going to stress about it. 

My main focus now is really on my spiritual preparation. Dom and I have decided to read a bit of Pope Benedict’s new encyclical on hope a little bit each night and if we finish that we’ll start in on his new book, Jesus of Nazareth. I think if we’re getting ready for Christ’s coming and making it a priority in our lives, Bella will start to get a sense of it. And there will be many more Christmases ahead for traditions to develop organically within our family as we add new members and as the little ones grow into it.

PS: Evidently the bookworm isn’t having much luck toddler proofing their tree.


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