Advent Wreath 2016

Our Advent wreath is the same one that Hubs had when he was growing up. My mother-in-law gave it to us several years ago. I add a white pillar candle in the center for Christmas, and place it on a red charger. This year, I decided it needed a little something, so my daughter wrapped the wreath in string of golden berries. Basically, it’s pretty simple.

We only have one child at home most of the time now, and he’s 14, so our issues with Advent fire are different now than they were when the kids were preschoolers. (Now it’s all about re-lighting the candle and seeing how far away one can stand and still manage to blow the candle out…)

If you’re worried about combining lit candles and small children, those LED candles are a terrific substitute. I wish they’d been around when my kids were small. Back in 2005 I offered some advice to parents who worried about combining toddlers and flaming objects on the dining-room table:

Don’t skip the Advent wreath just because you have young children. The Advent wreath has been great for our children during this season. Three times now, we have been through the Tremendously Terrifying Twos at Advent wreath time and I’m pleased to announce that no one has been hurt yet. However, now that we have a Teenager in the house, I’m thinking it might be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher at hand.

Maybe you have one of those cake plates that sits high off the table. Set your wreath on top of that, if you need to keep it away from the little one.

I wish you and your family many blessings this Advent!


I’m linking up today at for the Advent Wreath Linkup!

I’m also linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

#WorthRevisit: Playing with (Advent) Fire

When you’re in the thick of minute-by-minute parenting and corralling little kids, there’s always that one sage parenting veteran who observes, “You’ll miss this one day.” And usually your first impulse (which you resist with all your might) is to punch that person in the face.

I am now that person, missing the crazy of Advent with 3 kids who enjoyed their Advent wreath a little TOO much.

It’s easy to tell that whoever thought it was a good idea to observe Advent by putting candles on the table, in the reach of children, never had children themselves. Year after year after year I threaten to toss the regular candles in favor of the battery-operated variety, because in my house, Advent is where table manners and fire collide.

At my Advent table, you’re likely to hear:

  • “Where are the matches? These candle lighters are for WIMPS.”
  • “Finish chewing your food before blowing out the candle.”
  • “Stop warming your food over the Advent candle!” / “Awesome! It really toasted the bread!”
  • “I like to put the candle out with my spit.”
  • “I wonder if I can sneeze the candles out tonight.”
  • “No spitting on the Advent Wreath!”

And once in a while, you’re likely to see this:

advent match 2

The newest Candle Game involves sitting in your seat without leaning forward and blowing as hard as you can to extinguish as many candles as possible. Each person gets one chance, then it’s the next person’s turn. Asthmatics are definitely at a disadvantage in this game. (Ask me how I know).

If you need some tips for keeping a relatively-safe Advent (fire and all) with kids underfoot, I’ve got you covered.

But clearly, I didn’t miss my calling as an instructor in Charm School.

A very wise woman from my parish (and the Secular Franciscans) who was herself the mom of 6, once told me I shouldn’t worry when stuff like this happened. “At least you know they’re normal,” she reminded me. Martha was one of those people who could find humor in any situation. And that’s what gets me through Advent, year after year after year.

(Reposted from 2013)


worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

A Gradual Advent

Up on the housetop, the kids hung Christmas lights.
Up on the housetop, the kids hung Christmas lights.

The weather today was warm and clear and not too windy; all the kids were home, so Hubs sent them up to the roof to hang Christmas lights–like about half the people in our neighborhood.

After the initial trial run to make sure Russ had checked every bulb, I unplugged those lights and that’s how they’ll stay until Sunday.

We don’t go whole-hog on Christmas decorating around here until well into the Advent season. I like to bring things in gradually.

6f399-adventwreath2Way back when Middle Sister was little, she used to bug us about the Christmas tree. She’d have been happy to have that tree up on Halloween. (I think that’s because her birthday is two days after Christmas, so if Christmas was coming, her birthday would not be far behind!) But in the interest of not rushing the season, we decided that we’d save Christmas-tree decorating until “Pink Candle Sunday.” She’d be able to see very easily, without being old enough to read or use a calendar, when it would be Christmas-tree time. And that’s become the custom in our family every since.

Advent: Sublime, Ridiculous and Sentimental

Here’s how I usually do decorating:

  • First Sunday of Advent I bring out the Advent wreath, Christmas storybooks (when the kids were little) and the empty manger scene.  Nothing else.
  • Second Sunday of Advent I hang a few pine garlands around the house and put up some other decorations.
  • Pink Candle Sunday is Christmas-tree day.
  • Fourth Sunday of Advent, the rest of the house decorations–and animals (only) in the manger.
  • Christmas Eve:  Holy Family in the manger.
  • Christmas Day:  shepherds in the manger.
  • Epiphany:  Wise men in the manger.

I take the tree down after Epiphany, but often we keep the manger scene up until Candlemas.

When the kids were little, we used to bring out their toy Nativity scenes (we had this Playmobil one as well as a soft fabric one) at the beginning of Advent. These toys were only played with during the Advent and Christmas season, so the kids really looked forward to having those again.

Keep it simple. Remember, the point of Advent is preparing a place in your heart. And that’s hard to do when you’re running around like a crazy person.

Believe me. I know.