O Holy Night?

What family rituals or traditions help you remember the true meaning of Christmas and Advent? America wants to know!

Briefly describe your suggestions and practices. Post your response in the comments boxes below or email america@americamagazine.org; subject line Advent 2010.

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Include your full name, city and state.

DEADLINE: Nov. 28, 2010

Select responses will be published in the print edition.

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7 years 11 months ago
When our children were very young, I wanted them to understand that preparing the stable for Jesus' birth and preparing our hearts and our home were all the same thing.  I cut up thin strips of beige paper and placed them in a basket next to the nativity set.  Each time they did a kind deed, opted out of a "nitpick" with a sibling, or offered a prayer at meals, they could write that deed on the strip and place that "straw" in the manger. Love and kindness gave Jesus a warm place to stay.   
Cindy Schwirtz
7 years 11 months ago

I create an angel bag each year.  Everybody gets one, it can have a holy card, medal, rosary, how to pray the rosary booklet, other prayer books like the Pieta.  I try to do something different every year and make them age appropriate.  I also have everybody pick a saint for the year.  I have strips of paper with saints listed and something about that saint.  I hope they will find out more about the saint they receive.  I pray over that saint bag prior to each person choosing their saint, and I have found that the saint they receive seems to be needed for them that particular year.  The real reason for Christmas needs to be brought to people, and I feel I am doing my little part to make that happen.

7 years 11 months ago

The Christmas season has always been very special in our family.   When I was a child, my French relatives made special cookies at Christmas, 2 at a time,  by hand, using a heavy cast iron "gallette" maker that was heated on the stove.  Once I was married with my own family, I inherited my grandmother's tool and the tradition took hold in Puerto Rico.  Each of my 5 children have their own irons and still make "gallettes"  at Christmas with their children with the only difference that  now  we use electric Belgium waffle makers.  As a child, I remember waiting for Baby Jesus to arrive just as eagerly as I waited for Santa.  My Irish mother saw to that.  Our own family has kept that tradition alive as well.  My children played with a nativity set for decades and were on a first-name basis  with all the traditional figures as well as the animals.   The manger was always empty during Advent and  my third son had the responsability of putting Baby Jesus in his place first thing on Christmas morning.  When he visits us at Christmas now he does the same thing together with his 2 sons.  By the time that first creche finally died of old age,  I had somehow  adquired a large nativity set collection that now fills the house from the first Sunday of Advent till 3 Kings Day.   Displaying the creches every year has become an important part of the Maldonado Malfregeot faith tradition, a reminder of our history together and the memories attached to each piece, and a renewal of our connections to family and friends as we celebrate the Christmas Feast together once again.    The collection display is presented to family and friends during a special "Blessing" ceremony with prayers and affectionate sharing that has also now become a Christmas tradition for us all.  Thank you, Dear Lord, for all your blessings.    

JAMES TOURTELOTTE MR/MRS
7 years 11 months ago

Forty  two years ago my husband and I started to make the Advent Wreath part of Advent and Christmas.  We met an amazing florist who made very natural/spiritual Advent Wreaths...all natural materials....pine branches, pine cones, and berries.  Each Sunday of Advent we read the prayers together and then with each of our 3 children and then all together, the 5 of us.  The prayers for each Sunday were repeated each night of the week.  We took turns reading  the prayers.  We lit a candle on each Sunday and weekday  and then as Advent continues, we lite the sucessive candles.  Our candles  were/are 3 purple and one pink for  Gaudaute Sunday..(I should have googled that for the correct spelling)

The wonderul and spiritual florist continues to make them...He has been located in about 5 places...we follow him, support him and continue to very much thank him.
 
My husband and I  continue our advent tradition.  When our children visit with their spouces and children, we do our Advent lighting and reading.  We find that it is very spiritually meainingful.  It truly makes Advent and Christmas reflective of Mary and Joseph's journey and Jesus' birth.  On Christmas we place 4 white candles in the wreath. It is the birthday of Jesua and we welcome him and we thank him for his presence and most vital gifts.

Elaine and Jim Tourtelotte

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