So much of what our family does for Advent is part fluke, part work-done-ahead of time (pre-children), or inspired by other amazing liturgical bloggers. (Liturgical bloggers. Is that even a category? If it is, Jessica is definitely the founder of it.)
The main tradition we have for Advent is to light our Advent candles in the evening, sing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (you have lived until you're heard an adorable two year old voice try to sing that one), and pray our Jesse Tree reflection for the day. We've also done the "unwrap a Christmas book a night thing" this year. These traditions have been pretty consistent, year after year, for our family. The Jesse Tree ornaments were painted before I even got pregnant with our first, done in my free time and inspired by the set I was making for the class I was teaching at the time.
I've been itching to make an O' Antiphon board, ever since I had to leave behind the one I made for my class during our first year of marriage. I love O' Antiphons, those beautiful, incredible names for Christ. I love the anticipation, in these final days before Christmas.
But do you know what? Most of Advent, most of the liturgical year, is about living what the Church already does. Advent candles...they're just part of the landscape of the Church this time of year. Everyone gets a tree at some point during Advent, and between those lights and the lights of the Advent candles (and the growing darkness in our hemisphere at this time of year) all make us naturally long for the Light of the World.
If we're quiet, if we try to keep things simple, if we try to not doing everything perfectly, we may be surprised by the ways those blurry, quiet moments that emerge. One of my daughters is (like her mother) a major perfectionist, and she and I have a saying for ourselves, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."
That, my dear friends, is what Advent is really about. Anyone who has ever lived through the chaos of bringing a new baby into a family knows that there is nothing calm or perfect about that time....but there is something very, very beautiful.
(If you are wanting to dive head first into the Scriptures next Advent, I'm going to suggest this delightfully simple and totally free Jesse tree set. Print, cut, done. If this had existed six years ago, I would have definitely gone with this one! For more on the O'Antiphons, Jessica has a beautiful description of them over at her site.)