Today is the First Sunday of Advent.
In our family we use the season of Advent to gradually get ready for Christmas. We don't go whole hog and put up our Christmas tree on Black Friday. We like to start slower, and enjoy the Advent season. This year, since Advent is so short, we will be "speeding up" our preparations a bit. We try, though, to emphasize with the kids that this is a liturgical season and link our preparations and customs to that.
When the Big Kids were younger, I used to make an Advent paper chain. On each day there would be an activity or prayer or special treat listed. Then Little Brother got into the act, and would tear up the chain, and I started listing things on a calendar I'd print out. But who knew--the kids missed the paper chain! Middle Sister asked for it last week. So this year, we're back to the chain.
I've also taken Milehimama's suggestion and purchased a toy Nativity scene. Little Brother (and Middle Sister) can arrange and rearrange the figures to their hearts' content. And rumor has it that Little Brother wants to bring all the stuffed animals he can find to round out the selection of animals at the stable. (Is this a Nativity scene, or Noah's ark?) I'll bring that out today, as soon as I get the coffee table cleaned off.
Today's link says, "Put the empty manger on the shelf. Place the Advent wreath on the table. Begin decorating the house." The manger will remain completely empty until we put in the animals, during the week before Christmas.
H/T to Jeff at The Curt Jester for the Advent wreath and countdown that he's generously provided to all bloggers for their sidebars!