***In the spirit of ‘going green’ I thought I’d recycle the post I did last year, about this time.  Hey, it’s been a ball ‘o crazy around here.  Cut me some slack 🙂  We’re gearing up for the big surgery on Friday.  Here goes your recycling…***

Technically, the Christmas season doesn’t kick off until Christmas Eve…Advent is such a glorious time of year, isn’t it? Everybody is excited, they’re waiting for family, for good food, for a few presents and for the birth of Christ. I love the anticipation. It reminds me of being pregnant that last month…without the frequent bathroom trips.

In honor of the most wonderful time of the year, I thought I’d share a few traditions – some new, some old – we celebrate here at Casa Whitaker. Feel free to share yours!

TOP TEN: ADVENT TRADITIONS

1. The Advent Wreath. Every week a new candle is lit and every night we light the appropriate candle and pray as a family. The kids argue over who gets to light it and blow it out, but still.

2. The tree hunt. A few years ago, we started going to a real live tree farm to pick out our tree. Ok, hands up (mine is included) if you’ve ever bought a tree at Lowe’s. One year, we just wanted the experience of buying a tree. We found a jewel up in Salado. They are the nicest folks. There is hay riding, hot chocolate drinking and tree swinging – all of which make the trip worthwhile for the little people.

3. The Baby Jesus collection. When Will turned 3, we started collecting all the Baby Jesus’ from our nativity scenes and then on Christmas Eve, he’s “born” and the kids get to put them all out. This is one of our favorites and it reminds the kids of why we celebrate.

4. One word, Griswold. Ok, we’re not that bad, but the house is a beaut. Scott works really hard (actually the finishing touch is still in the garage being painted) every year to put together a masterpiece. Thanks honey, and you did it with lots of “help” this year too!!

5. Christmas lights. A few days before Christmas, we load up the kids and some hot chocolate and hit the town looking at lights. We used to do that as I kid and I absolutely loved it. I could look at lights all night long.

6. Confession. Will is preparing for his first reconciliation this weekend. I’ll have a longer post on that later, but suffice it to say, there is no better way to prepare for the coming of Christ than to reflect on our own inadequacies and be humbled by a Savior who came in spite of them all.

7. The Advent Calendar. We actually have two – one involves bribing with candy the other encourages the kids to do good deeds. Hey, whatever works.

8. The Feast of St. Nick. There was/ok IS a real live Santa Claus. We celebrate the big guy in a really cool way on December 5 (yes, it’s coming up!!) His feast day is December 6, so on the evening before, the kids put out their shoes and some carrots for St. Nicholas and his trusty horse. The next morning they awake to find Christmas pajamas and a candy cane. It’s a wonderful way to tie together our love of the Santa Claus tradition with our faith.

9. Christmas cards. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved getting letters in the mail. It’s a total joy to hear how our friends are doing and to see pictures of them and their families. We usually get ours in the mail the day before Turkey Day and get to enjoy reading about all of YOU the rest of Advent. Then, throughout the year, we pull a card out each evening, re-read it and pray for that family. Our kids get to know all the fabulous people God has put in our life and we get to pray for them. Love it.

10. Family movie night. This is our newbie to the list. Last Christmas, Scott and I got on this American Film Institute Top 100 Movie List. Our first find? It’s a Wonderful Life. Seriously, people, we had not seen this movie. How is that possible?? After seeing such an OUTSTANDING classic, we felt we should watch it with the kids one night during Advent. So, the DVD is cued, we’re just searching for the right night.

Hey, have a great Advent. Make it count this year.

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