Family life is chaotic and messy, especially during the holiday season. This year, take time to prepare your home for Advent, even in the midst of the chaos.
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Somewhere in the mess of my living room lies a domestic church. I know it’s there, probably shoved under the couch with a Shopkin or jammed behind the curtain with a VTech car.
Most days, it’s pretty hard to see.
I’m fixated on the chaos and oblivious to the grace.
When we’re knee-deep in children, grace hides in endless interruptions. It disappears in paint smears, laundry loads and Legos underfoot. Instead of being grateful for my gifts or enjoying every moment or trying not to blink, I’m grumbling. Getting irritated. Feeling tired, frustrated, annoyed.
And then there’s Advent.
How do I prepare my heart and home when I can’t even find the wreath?
Yes, life with children is messy. But it’s also holy and good and right. We are building a domestic church in the chaos, and there’s no better time than Advent to set the foundation for the cathedral.
Consider a home altar
You won’t need much, and the benefits of creating a holy space are immeasurable as you begin this penitential season.
- Set a small table or mantle space with a cloth, some candles, and a crucifix.
- Add a statue or icon, a vase of flowers, or even an image of the Holy Family.
And that’s it! You can build your altar entirely with items you already have on hand, or you make a special trip to your local Catholic shop. A variety of online retailers sell home altar supplies as well; with all the options available, you’re sure to find something that fits your taste and budget.
Follow a Liturgical Calendar
If I’m going to make Advent work, it needs to be on my calendar. You can find an incredibly detailed packet (44 pages!) free from the USCCB, but I’m partial to the beautiful, at-a-glance prints courtesy of Jessica at TelosArt. Stylish enough to frame and hang on your wall, the calendar highlights feast days and activities to celebrate throughout the Advent Season. Keeping a liturgical calendar in a conspicuous place highlights the special days of the Church year and keeps everyone focused on the purpose of the season.
Build a physical sign of the season
We rely on signs and symbols everyday. Why not create an outward sign for Advent? Little ones do well with a Sacrifice Manger, an empty creche that family members fill with hay as a sign of sacrificial love. And just because I’ve never had much success with a Jesse Tree doesn’t mean you’ll meet the same fate – especially when you’ve got Jen Frost on your side. Her book, Our Family’s Jesse Tree, offers patterns, devotions and daily activities to create your own family’s Jesse Tree.
One day my house will be spotless. My children will be grown; their bedroom floors visible. And I will miss it all: the mess, the crazy, the busyness. This Advent, I’m going to embrace the mess, and I hope that you will, too.
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