"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy will." ~ Luke 1:38

Saturday, November 30, 2013

~ CHRISTmas Presence: Keep Christ in Christmas 2013 Edition ~

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013

sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

  Be sure to visit as many links as possible,

listed at the bottom of this post.
~ + ~ + ~ + ~
There are certain cues that can help turn our focus away from the busyness of life and the distractions of secular...let's call them "temptations".  Even if you are not prone to the allurements of the "Holiday Season", you could find yourself retreating to the point of missing out on the opportunity to evangelize.  And we are all called to evangelize.  As Catholics, by the very nature of our baptism, we are called to evangelize.  Yes and Amen.

Remember, the New Evangelization.  The USCCB sum it all up, better than I ever could, here

So what are these 'cues'? 

In our church, we see the Liturgical colors change.  From the green (the Holy Ghost,
life, eternal hope)
of the Ordinary Time, to the color of purple (penance
humility, melancholy),
during our season of Advent.    

In my home, I put away the pretty autumn décor and slowly replace with Christmas items...Yes, Christmas.  Although, Christmas does not officially begin until December 25th, I use the Advent season to prepare for the coming of Christ. 

So, out come the nativity scenes, and the Advent Calendars, and the Advent books....
Even the Christmas tree will make its appearance, while we wait to 'light' the tree until Christmas Eve (or during a short reprieve for both Gaudete Sunday and the Mother's Rosary & Cookie Exchange).

Christmas music is limited (sans choir practice in preparation for Christmas) during Advent.

Our Christmas Tree is certainly Keeping Christ in Christmas.  Borrowing from last years post...here are some thoughts on the Christmas Tree:

I thought, since we call it a CHRISTmas Tree, that we should at least have ornaments that represent CHRIST on our tree.  Sound reasonable?

That would still include all the sweet little ornaments that my children have made over the years...and the thoughtful gifted ones from family and friends. 
At first, I started rotating some of the older and more sentimental ornaments...we've accumulated quite a few ornaments over the past 22 years (and those that we brought to the marriage - so, if you think about it, that's about 96 years of combined accumulation!! yikes).  We've lost some along the way...the count declined some at around the toddler years...no surprise there. 

Over the recent years, we have been collecting Christmas ornaments that are *CHRISTmas* themed...so, no snowman, ballet slippers, reindeer, or mouse ornaments - cute as they are.  We keep those *type* ornaments (that we already own) for sentimental reason, but have really been enjoying finding and adorning our tree with Christ-like ornaments.  Truly helping us to keep Christ in Christmas.

All things CHRISTmas. 

And, since I LOVE angels, and have quite the collection of angel ornaments, they are also included in the tree décor. 
Also, (and more importantly) since God has used good angels, as part of our Messianic history (as messengers and such), and are heavenly creatures - spiritual beings created by God, to serve and adore God and are our guardians;  They, too, have a place on our Christmas tree.  Besides, it was the angel Gabriel that announced the incarnation of our Lord to Mary...therefore, it's appropriate to include angels. 

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Angel proclaiming the Good News!

Advent traditions that we love to keep include the Jesse Tree.
Again, borrowing from one of  last years Advent post:

~ Maranatha! ~
~ Come, O Christ the Lord! ~
We used these Advent candles last year. 
I think we can get another 32+ hours of burning out of them. :o)

Several years ago, we switched over to use this ornament-style for our Jesse Tree,
from the
Paper Dali
Hand-made with love...

My children colored, cut and laminated them.  We, then, punched a hole at the top and tied a purple ribbon on.  Then, after the daily reading, we hang the "ornament" on the "tree".

We have tried a variety of Jesse Tree styles over the years...this one stuck.  And so, here we are.

Simple and Sweet

 "I am the Root of Jesse and David's Son, The radiant Star of morning and God's own Light."

Wishing you a very blessed and fruitful Advent Season....as we prepare for His coming.

~ Come, O Christ the Lord! ~

This year, in order to feed this mama's soul, I will visit Jenny's  A Catholic Woman’s Advent Devotional, specifically for women. 

All the while, I make sure to teach, remember and enjoy some of the Feast Days within the Advent season.  For instance (again, borrowing from the archives):
On the vigil of St. Nicholas' feast day...

The girls didn't need to be reminded to put their slippers out by the fireplace.

Conductor...needed reminding. :o)

The slippers were placed by the fireplace...in anticipation of *three golden coins*.

On Dec. 6th - the actual feast day:
After morning Mass, we hurried home to continue our St. Nicholas tradition...


~ Peppermint Hot Chocolate ~

There are so many  wonderful ideas when preparing for the coming of Christ; just remember to keep it simple.  Don't try and do all the Advent ideas, which can be overwhelming.  Use only what works for you and your family as your present situation allows.
I am always grateful for all the wonderful blogs that share their family traditions and activities.  I am also appreciative of the time spent organizing link-ups like the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up. 
It is encouraging and helpful in so many ways.  Please share one of your favorite Advent traditions or activities in the comment box...

One last thought from me (mostly to myself), remember to
Faith, Family, then Fun.  You will find that you will accomplish much more by keeping Christ in the center of whatever you choose as an Advent 'activity'.

Holy Mass
Daily Spiritual readings
Simple Devotions
Choose one.  Nourish, first, your soul...the rest will follow.
Your peace will evangelize to your family, friends and beyond...

Wishing you a very
Hope you get lots of Presence for CHRISTmas! ;o)
Visit the following links to learn more about
Keeping Christ in Christmas and remember to share your favorite below.

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Coffee Moments with Sam     The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others
Canadian Catholic Mom         Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling   Keep Christ in Christmas
Em’s Estuary: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos        Keep Christ in Christmas
Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home         Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats
Training Happy Hearts            10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year
Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy        Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk       Keeping Christ in Christmas

Linking up to Catholic Bloggers Network
Monthly Link-Up Blitz
~ Homeschooling & Liturgical Calendar ~


  1. Oh how I wish we had a Jesse Tree! I had plans to make one this year, but still had my Nativity doll set to finish.
    Your ornaments are just beautiful! We sadly only have two Nativity ornaments for our tree, maybe I will ask for more for Christmas this year!

    1. It was over many years that we finally got our Jesse Tree together & completed...so take heart! You will get there! No rush.
      I usually go out shopping for Nativity ornaments "after Christmas", which is actually still Christmas for us! Every year I try and buy one. If I find more than one or if they are on clearance, I might snag a second or third and give them to my children as part of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" gifts.
      Thank you for visiting and have a blessed Advent!

  2. I love your ornaments!
    On All Saints Day I started reading about a new Saint every day and will continue through the year. That feeds me and often I can share some tidbit with the little people.
    Enjoy the season!

    1. Thank you, MamaRoc!
      I need to begin reading the saints again (daily)...I've drifted away. Thank you for the visit and inspiration!!

  3. Beautiful ornaments! I've yet to be satisfied with our Jesse tree ornaments. Normally I print off some simple ones for the kids to color every year. I wish I could do something more meaningful, but they are still small. Maybe sometime when they are older they can get a bit more crafty.

    1. Yes, me too; someday I hope to get a bit more crafty with my Jesse tree ornaments. But I do have fond memories of the ones that my children colored while young. On the year they tired of coloring, those are the ones I saved and now use and they enjoy the fact that I saved their work.
      Have a blessed Advent and thank you for visiting!

  4. Nice post! I love the ornaments on your tree...sticking to Christ-centered decorations of Nativities and angels. So true that we need to prioritize and not try to do ALL the Advent programs, just what works for our families!

    1. Thank you, Monica! And thank you for all your wonderful work!!

  5. Thanks for sharing your traditions! I love the Christmas-themed ornaments for the Christmas tree. There were also Christmases when I hanged angel ornaments on our tree. Will keep that in mind for next year's celebration.

    1. I do love the angel ornaments...what a beautiful tree it must have made!
      Have a blessed Advent, Teresa!

  6. I like your ideas and I LOVE the name of your blog! that is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.

    1. Thank you for visiting, Lauren!
      The Scripture verse is one I try and strive for, daily...in the little things. Our Lady is the perfect role model!

  7. Our family choir members will also be practising Christmas music over Advent!

    I enjoyed looking at your photos. Such beautiful tree ornaments! Yes, collections get bigger and bigger each year. I wonder if you could pass on some of your ornaments to your children as they leave home. That would be so special.

    God bless!

    1. What a beautiful idea about the ornaments, Sue!! (and a good practice of detachment for me).

      Come Christmas, our families will be singing for Joy for the Birth of the Christ Child!! Until then, have a blessed and fruitful Advent!

  8. Your ornaments are beautiful!! I have been slowly trying to find ornaments that focus on the true meaning of Christmas!

    1. Thank you so much, Monique (love your name btw)!

      Sometimes it is quite the quest to find true Christmas ornaments...I'm always thrilled when I do find one.

      God bless!

  9. Have you ever read the book The Jesse Tree (red cover) It's a favorite here!

    1. Thank you for the suggestion, Martianne! I will have to search for that one...
      Growing up I never really understood The Jesse Tree; I am so thankful for books that can help me to teach my children (myself included)!
      Blessings to you and your family!

  10. Oh my! You have such gorgeous religious ornaments! I am inspired to change out some of our secular ornaments for those like yours. Where do you get them from?

    1. I have found them at a variety of places...Religious Stores (I have one downtown), Church Gift Shops (when traveling or visiting), CA Missions, Boutiques, even secular stores like Target, Macys, etc...

      Have a blessed Advent, Anabelle!

  11. You have collected some very beautiful ornaments! I read in a little book recently about the origins of Christmas trees and ornaments. I don't know how reliable this is, but the author says that in the middle ages when the people would perform their Mystery Plays depicting stories from the Bible, one of the most popular was the story of Adam and Eve (presumably told near Christmas, as it starts off the salvation story which led necessarily to Christ's birth). Traditionally, they would use an evergreen tree and hang apples from strings, to represent the Tree of Knowledge. Eventually, the people brought this symbol into their homes. I'm not certain how accurate this is, but it's an interesting possibility!

    1. Christine, this is a wonderful story about the origins of the Christmas tree...I have never heard this before. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were truly accurate!? Thank you so much for sharing this...I will have to investigate further.
      This reminds me of the story of the Twelve Days of Christmas...also originally used to teach the Faith.
      Again, I thank you. Have a blessed Advent and a Joyous Christmas!!!

  12. I've been thinking about how we should celebrate Christmas for some time now http://mrsdbliss.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/10-ways-to-keep-commercial-out-of.html
    an when to put up the Christmas has been a particular struggle. I think the idea of waiting to light the lights is a wonderful one full of rich symbolism.

    1. Setting up our Christmas tree is sometimes based on pragmatism...some years we have used Gaudate Sunday to celebrate the occasion; other years, depending on our activity commitments we set it up in early December. It doesn't work for us to wait until the actual Christmas day because of the Holy Mass, church commitments and Family obligations. The lighting of the Christmas lights was the perfect solution, for us.
      I'm off to visit your link...thank you for visiting and a blessed Advent to you and your family!

  13. We love dong the Jesse Tree. We've been doing it now for about six years, but this is our first year to do is as new Catholics. So many wonderful traditions you have and I am always looking to add more to ours. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    1. That is so wonderful, Chelsey! Thankfully, our Faith is so rich with traditions, we can never stop learning or become bored with it.

      I wish you and your family a very blessed and fruitful Advent...and may your Christmas be filled with much joy and love!

  14. I love the Jesse Tree. I teach almost all those stories in kindergarten during the first semester. It is a great way to review with my class. St. Nicholas left us some candy canes which we enjoyed after an All-school Mass

    1. The children in your class are very blessed to have you as their teacher, Charlotte! May God bless you richly in heaven for your work here on earth.
      We celebrated a wonderful St. Nicholas day, as well...candy canes and all!


  15. As I may have said before, you are my go-to for liturgical living inspiration. I am overwhelmed by your generosity, how you take time to write about how you live Advent and Christmas and filling our heads and hearts with the true spirit.

    We also used Paper Dali's Jesse Tree drawings in the past. Honestly, we never really took off with the Jesse Tree tradition in our family. I guess it's my fault, failing to explain its significance. I'll see if I can still catch up this year.

    It's a joy to note that you posting more often this Advent. I can really use the inspiration and the company. Thanks, dear!

    1. Marcia, I'm humbled. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I have found a lot of spiritual support through your blog. Thank you for sharing!

      Initially, I really struggled with the Jesse Tree. But it did seem like a good way to teach Salvation History in little "sound bites".
      For whatever reason, it was/is appealing for my children to place that ornament on the tree. And year after year, it began to feel more natural (teaching our Faith), using this little tradition.

      I'm also happy when you visit...thank you!

  16. We use simple paper laminated ornaments for our Jesse Tree, but I want to make a switch to maybe felt someday....I love how your Christmas Tree ornaments all center on Christ...our ornaments are a good mixture of secular and sacred. And I love the "presence" saying...Hmmm...that gets me thinking about a great craft and lesson that would make! Have a blessed Advent!

    1. Felt ornaments would be lovely...
      Do share your craft & lesson idea once you compile; a lot of the traditions we now use have been inspired by others like yourself! Thank you for visiting and have a Christ centered Advent.

  17. Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting, Matthew. Have a blessed Advent!

  18. Keeping Christ the center of Christmas can easily be done celebrating Advent with a Jesse Tree. My family hangs an ornament each night and reads scripture. Such a special time together.

    Felt ornaments here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PinkScissorsDesign


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