We asked our readers how they ground Christmas celebrations in their faith during a season that can be hectic and distracting. Sixty percent of readers told America that Advent prayers and Masses were the most important way for them to ground their celebrations in their faith. Many respondents noted that prayer was especially important at this time. “I try to pray more in Advent to find the real meaning of Christmas,” said Linda Epping of Los Angeles. Sheila Kelly of White Bear Lake, Minn., echoed this point: “I like to spend extra time in prayer during Advent. It helps me keep my perspective during the run-up to Christmas.”
Many readers talked about how rewarding it was for them to observe the liturgical traditions of Advent. Paula Berezansky of Indiana, Pa., put it plainly: “I try to celebrate Advent during Advent and Christmas between Christmas Eve and the Epiphany.” Daniel Tucker of Kalamazoo, Mo., told America: “The lighting of Advent wreaths or the celebration of Gaudete Sunday in the third week of Advent serve to delineate this time of waiting as a sacred one.”
Readers (17 percent) also highlighted the importance of charitable giving as a way to express faith in the lead-up to Christmas. “Justice, mercy, kindness, compassion are at the heart of preparing for the celebration of Love born anew,” said Marion Danworth of Asheville, N.C. “Charitable giving for me includes thinking more intentionally about the many ways to share from my abundance.” Mary Louise Hartman of Princeton, N.J., described her understanding of charitable giving in similar terms. “Charitable giving is a ritual I enjoy early in the month of December,” she said. “It reminds of our responsibility to share our blessings and to help others.”
Another important way to incorporate faith into the preparation for Christmas includes reconnecting with family and friends. “Going to Mass with family is the important way that I join the two intertwined and equally important aspects of the holiday season, family and faith,” James Fanning of North Providence, R.I., told America.