Please step over to Sweetness and Light and check out a wonderful idea for celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. This is one to put in your Christmas notebook for next year. Thank you Meredith!
Please step over to Sweetness and Light and check out a wonderful idea for celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas. This is one to put in your Christmas notebook for next year. Thank you Meredith!
The gifts are give, the food eaten, the Savior has come and now it is time to rest. What a wonderful time for a fair. Please join us at O Night Divine as we host the Loveliness of Christmas Fair on January 2nd. Send me your Christmas posts by Saturday, December 30th. Please include lots of photos of your celebration. It will be so much fun to peek into each other's homes and see joy!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
From all of us at O Night Divine have a blessed and holy Christmas.
And so it was, that while they were there, in the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothese, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Our wait is almost over, and the children's hearts are aflutter with anticipation toward the birth of the Christ Child. As we enter the final week of this all too brief Advent, perhaps we might succeed in brushing aside the visions of sugarplums for just a bit longer by preparing a Tea honoring the Old Testament figures whose lives were a compass for humanity, pointing the True path toward the Promised Redeemer.
My aim for this Tea was simplicity, suggesting plain offerings with common ingredients, in hopes that this menu will not add to the burdens that creep in the week before Christmas. Children are so dear, so unfailingly receptive to religious themes, and so easy to please that I have reason to hope symbolism will triumph where my culinary advice fails.
A Jesse Tea Menu
Isaac's Bundle of Sticks
Joseph's Coat of Many Colors
The Burning Bush
Moses' Tablets of the Law
The Root of Jesse
David's Star Tea Sandwiches
Bethlehem, House of Bread (optional)
John the Baptist's Honey
Angelic Messengers (optional)
Pure White Cakes for Our Blessed Mother OR Flowers of Jesse (or both)
How to shorten this Tea, if needed:
Host a "Tea of Promises," emphasizing God's Covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, along with the Blessed Mother as the promised "Woman" of Genesis.
Recipes and Suggestions
1. "Jesse Tea"
Children love plays on words. Any type of tea or iced tea would work for this one.
2. "Adam's Apple" (Genesis 3: 6)
During the Christmas season, we are all a bit overworked. A plain bowl of apples is enough for this offering. If you are like me and forgot to put out those fun little Gummi Worms for your Tea in Honor of Guadalupe last week, you might want to add them to the bowl for effect. They could represent the serpent or just stand on their own as worms to remind us that the sin of Adam brought death and decay in the world.
Another thought would be to skip the tea and serve "Adam's Apple Cider." I prefer the visual image of the apples in a bowl, but you should do whatever is most convenient. Other possibilities: apple chips, tea sandwiches spread with apple butter, or some kind of apple pastry.
3. "Noah's Ark" (Genesis 9: 12-17)
I thought about suggesting bakery rainbow cookies for Noah's Rainbow, but did not want the tea to be too loaded with sweets. Noah's Arks (pictured below) are a cute and healthy alternative. Take a piece of celery, and cut it to a length of about two inches. Trim the bottom so that it will sit flat on the plate, and trim the two ends on an angle so that it begins to have the shape of a boat. Cut a grape tomato in half and pop it on top. The plate could be lined with a thin layer of Ranch dressing for a "sea" if you do not think it would be too messy.
[Celery is extremely choke-able, so please exercise caution when serving to young children.]
4. Abraham's Stars (Genesis 15: 5)
We still have tons of Dora the Explorer Cinnamon Stars cereal left over from our Guadalupe Tea, so this is an obvious choice for us. You might consider star cookies, white chocolate chips, or even star shaped sprinkles. Then again, for something very, very easy and impressive for younger children, just take one of the Adam's apples, cut it in half horizontally, and show them Abraham's "stars" inside. (I am a firm believer in cutting corners--and apples--when necessary!)
5. "Isaac's Bundle of Sticks" (Genesis 22: 6)
Abraham's son, Isaac, carried the bundle of sticks for the sacrifice as a precursor to the wood of the cross carried by God's Only Begotten Son on Calvary. For this symbol, put exactly eight small pretzel sticks per child into bundles, and tie them with a bit of embroidery floss, yarn, or, as my imaginative daughter Agnes suggested, shoestring licorice.
6. "Jacob's Ladder" (Genesis 28: 12)
To commemorate Isaac's son Jacob's flight from the fury of his brother Esau, and the prophetic dream he had along the way, have the children remove the floss from their pretzel sticks and arrange them on plates in the shape of two-runged ladders--or perhaps even one long shared ladder in the middle of the table.
7. "Joseph's Coat of Many Colors" (Genesis 37: 3-4)
The coat of many colors given to Joseph by his doting father Jacob incited the wrath of his jealous brothers who sold him into slavery in the land of Egypt. I can think of many ways to symbolize this coat, but here is a particularly easy one. Spread peanut butter on bread (already cut into a pretty shape, or just cut in fourths with the crust removed). Using a stencil made out of wax paper, pour colored round sprinkles over the peanut butter to create the shape of a "coat of many colors." You could also use the stencil to spread the peanut butter, adding the sprinkles afterward like glitter on glue. If you are pressed for time, do not worry about the stencil. Spread peanut butter on small bread shapes and let the children sprinkle the colors on it themselves. (The results of these three suggestions are pictured below.)
Another thought would be to cut the sandwiches using gingerbread girl cookie cutters, trimming all but the robe.
8. "The Burning Bush" (Exodus 3: 2-3)
Broccoli florets look exactly like tiny green bushes. Add a bit of Thousand Island or Honey Mustard dressing to each to remember the flame that burned but did not consume the bush. Children would probably prefer dipping the florets into the dressing themselves, but I photographed a few already completed to show the effect. Once again, please remember--I am no food stylist, and broccoli is not an especially photogenic vegetable!
9. "Moses' Tablets of the Law" (Exodus 34: 1)
Two Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies or Mini Milanos per child, and you are in business! You might want to write numbers on the "tablets" from a tube of icing, but I would suggest leaving it plain for convenience.
10. "The Root of Jesse" (Isaiah 11: 1 and 10)
Show the children a root vegetable, such as a carrot (or some fragrant ginger), preferably with the plant still attached, and explain how the root forms the base from which a plant can grow and flourish. Then let them help themselves from a bowl of baby carrots to represent "The Root of Jesse."
11. "David's Star Tea Sandwiches" (1 Samuel 17: 12-51)
The Star of David is such an easy shape to recreate. Use your favorite thin-sliced bread and cold cuts. For example, you might put American Cheese on a bit of buttered white bread, cutting it into a triangle shape. Then rotate the top bread triangle halfway, forming a Star. (This is a simple and kid-friendly suggestion. Needless to say, you could make much tastier sandwiches for this. All that matters is that you choose a filling that will not fall out of the bread when the top slice is turned.)
12. "Bethlehem, House of Bread" (Matthew 2: 5-6)
God promised that the Savior would be born in the City of David, Bethlehem. Because Bethlehem means "Houst of Bread," I couldn't resist suggesting a basket of bread, rolls, or scones for the table.
13. "John the Baptist's Honey" (Luke 1: 41; Matthew 3: 3)
St. John the Baptist spent his life exhorting others to Prepare for the coming of Our Lord, living on honey and wild locusts in the desert. My guess is that your darlings would not be interested in trying locusts, but perhaps they would enjoy a squirt of honey in their tea or swirled on the peanut butter "Coats of Many Colors."
14. "Angelic Messengers" (optional)
If you have a few Stella D'oro Angel Wings cookies left over from your Guadalupe Tea, you might want to put them on a tray to represent the Angel Gabriel (or perhaps add them to your Jacob's Ladders). Then again, you might share a gorgeous cookie like the one we found at our local bakery (below). One of these is enough for a whole family, with each child taking a little piece.
15. "Pure White Cakes for Our Blessed Mother" or "Flowers of Jesse" or both
Mary's Fiat brought our Redeemer into the world, and no Advent Tea would be complete without a vivid reminder of her. One thought would be to bake pure white cupcakes to represent her spotless, perfect purity. (Last year, we made a tower of cupcakes to celebrate the Feast of Mary, Mother of God that could be adapted with white cake, white frosting, and white sugar.)
If you are pressed for time and unable to bake, make quick "Flowers of Jesse" out of red and green spice drops, readily available this time of year. Press down the red spice drop with your thumb as if you were making thumbprint cookies. This will form the rose. Then do the same for a green spice drop, cutting it in half to form two leaves arranged around each flower.
These make a perfect final course to the Tea on their own, but the ambitious may use them to decorate "Our Lady's Cakes." I love the idea of the vibrant Flowers springing from the pure white cakes, reminding the children of Our Lady and her Divine Son. These would be great for Christmas as well.
As with the Lenten and Easter Teas, small cards with the Biblical Quotes handwritten or printed on them add to the display and reinforce the symbolism for the children. Oh, and if you decide to host this Tea for next year, here is a tip: the time to purchase pink and purple table linens is around Easter. Last March, I was able to purchase gorgeous, inexpensive pink and purple table cloths to save for Advent very inexpensively. Nowadays, everything is red, green, and gold.
Here are a few photos to illustrate some of the suggestions above. Believe me, I know these are not anything too spectacular, but I think they illustrate well how easy this menu really is. I had to laugh outright as I dipped those homely broccoli florets into Thousand Island dressing, and 12 year old Agnes beamed with admiration, exclaiming, "Mommy, you are like the Catholic Martha Stewart!" : ) : ) : ) Ah, see what I mean about children? They truly look with the eyes of love!
Or, if you are in the mood for something sweet, try Noah's Rainbows instead:
Three possibilities for these sandwiches:
Jesse Tea, Shopping List
Dora the Explorer Cinnamon Star Cereal (or any other "stars")
Slim Pretzel Sticks
Multi-colored round sprinkles (non-parielles)
Thousand Island, Honey Mustard, or Ranch Dressing
White or wheat bread for two kinds of sandwiches
Bread to put in a basket for "Bethlehem" (optional offering)
Milk for the tea
Butter for the tea sandwiches
American Cheese or other cold cuts for "Star of David Tea Sandwiches"
Milano or mini Milano Cookies from Pepperidge Farm
Stella D'oro Angel Wings (optional)
Ingredients for White Cupcakes and/or red and green spice drops
From Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year:
The Commencement of the Great Antiphons
The Church enters to-day on the seven days which precede the Vigil of Christmas, and which are known in the liturgy under the name of the Greater Ferias. The ordinary of the Advent Office becomes more solemn; the antiphons of the psalms, both for Lauds and the Hours of the day, are proper, and allude expressly to the great coming. Every day, at Vespers, is sung a solemn antiphon, consisting of fervent prayer to the Messias, whom it addresses by one of the titles given Him in the sacred Scriptures.
In the Roman Church, there are seven of these antiphons, one for each of the greater ferias. They are commonly called the O's of Advent, because they all begin with that interjection. In other Churches, during the middle ages, two more were added to the these seven; one to our blessed Lady, O Virgo virginum; and the other to the angel Gabriel, O Gabriel; or to St. Thomas the apostle, whose feast comes during the greater ferias; it began O Thoma Didyme. There were even Churches where twelve great antiphons were sung; that is, besides the nine we have just mentioned, O Rex Pacifice to our Lord, O mundi Domina to our Lady, and O Hierusalem to the city of the people of God.
The canonical Hour of Vespers has been selected as the most appropriate time for this solemn supplication to our Saviour, because, as the Church sings in one of her hymns, it was in the evening of the world (vergente mundi vespere) that the Messias came amongst us. These antiphons are sung at the Magnificat, to show us that the Saviour whom we expect is to come to us by Mary. They are sung twice, once before and once after the canticle, as on double feasts, and this to show their great solemnity. In some Churches it was formerly the practice to sing them thrice; that is, before the canticle, before the Gloria Patri, and after the Sicut erat.
Lastly, these admirable antiphons, which contain the whole pith of the Advent liturgy, are accompanied by a chant replete with melodious gravity, and by ceremonies of great expressiveness, though, in these latter, there is no uniform practice followed. Let us enter into the spirit of the Church; let us reflect on the great day which is coming; that thus we may take our share in these the last and most earnest solicitations of the Church imploring her Spouse to come, to which He at length yields.
As mentioned by Gueranger, there have been more than seven antiphons over the years until the number seven was established in the Roman rite. There are still some orders or rites that have an extra Marian antiphon, the antiphon O Virgin of Virgins.
Further Information on the O Antiphons:
Many families begin the 9 day Christmas Novena on December 16, and include the O Antiphons as a part of the Novena. Here are two examples:
This is my favorite part of Advent. It all started when we read the section in Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger called O Antiphon Days and implemented the practice in our family. My mother helped the little ones, but even my dad got involved, and each person supplied a special treat after dinner for celebration of the Great Os. Then at prayer time we opened up the new window of our Advent Tower and sang the corresponding verse to O Come O Come Emmanuel. It was very simple, but it made a lasting impression. I never tire hearing or singing this Advent hymn, as it just conjures all the Old Testament longing with a haunting melody.
I was thrilled to find more about the Benedictine monastic celebrations of these days from my summer reading Medieval English Gardens, by Teresa McLean, The Viking Press, 1980. I'd love to get the actual quotes from the primary sources someday, but even these tidbits are very interesting:
Somewhere in every obedientary account is the entry: 'To the gardener, for his O -- 26s.8d', or whatever the standard contribution was in that house. Sometimes the entry refers to the gardener's 'O et Olla', sometimes just his 'Olla'. Whatever the form of the 'O' it signified the gardener's special day, and there were six other obedientiaries who also had 'O' days. The origin of the 'O's is a mosaic of excerpts from the Prophetic and Sapential books of the Old Testament, all beginning with the invocation 'O'. Each of the seven 'O' antiphons was awarded to the obedientary whose job mostly closely corresponded to its opening words. For instance, the one beginning 'O Clavis David' (O Key of David) belonged to the cellarer because he had charge of all the keys in the house. The 'O's were sung at Vespers on successive nights from December 16-23, making a festive preparation for Christmas, and on the day of his 'O' the obedientary led the singing of it in the choir, had a day off work and had a feast laid on him by the other obedientiaries.
The 'O's were big occasions, and the third of them 'O Radix Jesse' (O Tree of Jesse), belonged to the gardener, which made him a more important obedientary than his small budget, indeed his nonexistence in some houses, would imply.
In continental monasteries other 'O' antiphons were added to the Advent seven, until as many as eighteen were sung in some houses. But English monasteries kept to seven 'O's and kept their celebratory pittances comparatively restrained, if only so that digressions lasted through the week. At Durham on the day of the prior's 'O', 'O Sapienta', the Master of the Common House provided 'a solemn banquet of figs and raisins, ale and cakes, and thereof no superfluity or excess, but a scholastical and moderate congratulations amongst themselves'. Obedientary status entailed more than enough work and responsibility to merit some ale and cakes and moderate congratulation once a year.
These antiphons are also put to a beautiful chant. Musica Sacra has a recording of the Gregorian Chant of the , O Antiphons by Scott Turkington, including the Magnificat. It's just breathtakingly gorgeous.
It is interesting to note that when one puts first letters of each Latin antiphon, starting from the last to the first, it spells ERO CRAS, which in Latin means "Tomorrow I will come."
Dominican House of Studies has the Dominican version of the chants online.
Meditating and Reading
Because these are ancient chants, there is so much available to meditate on these jewels of our liturgy. I have a few books that are out-of-print, but you might already have them on your bookshelf, or find a used copy to buy or borrow. These are spiritual classics, with meditations on the Liturgical Year. Only McGarry's volume is specific to Advent.
Craft and Display Ideas
It's so good to have tangible objects for our Domestic Church. I mentioned my family used a cardboard Advent Tower that came in a kit, but sadly it's not in print. There is an O Antiphon House which is a flat cardboard suggestion. Another mom said she took small cardboard circles used for cakes (with gold on one side), decorated an antiphon on each, and attached to a long ribbon, turning the circle around for the current day. She's also done embroidered antiphons.
May your family enjoy these final days to Christmas. May you unite your longings for the Saviour with all the pleading of the Antiphons, and pray together with the Church "O Come, Emmanuel."
Posted by Jennifer G. Miller
In the Roman Martyrology, Saint Lucy is called both virgin and martyr, and in both titles lies the secret of her sanctity in the Roman Empire of the fourth century. Recent excavations in Syracuse, the ancient capital of Sicily, revealed both her tomb and an inscription dating from the end of the fourth century that mentions her feast day. She is known to have been honored in Rome in the sixth century and she is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Lucy, whose name means "light" was invoked by the devout of the Middle Ages as the patroness of those afflicted with any eye disease. In art she is often shown carrying a dish with two eyeballs on it. The poet Dante prayed to Saint Lucy for the relief of an eye ailment, and in his Divine Comedy he gave this saint one of the most honored places in heaven, next to that of Saint John the Baptist. Much of what we are told about Saint Lucy may be legend. The earliest account of her martyrdom, although written some time before the sixth century, is not considered authentic.Her legend can be found at Patron Saints Index.
Lucy means "light" and she is the patron of eye troubles and blindness. As mentioned above, she is often portrayed holding her eyeballs on a dish, although in the painting above by Francesco del Cossa has the eyes held in a more unique way. Her feast originally coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feastday has become a feast of light...of course, not The Light, but pointing to Christ our Light.. There are so many approaches to thinking of light -- Christ the Light of the World comes at Christmas; Christ our Light in the Paschal Candle at Easter; we see light through the gift of eyesight; we are enlightened by our Faith and grace; light comes through sunlight, fire, electricity; scientific analysis of the speed of light and the light spectrum, the rainbow colors...and this merely scratches the surface. All over the world we remember this virgin-martyr saint less than 2 weeks before Christmas. Whether you embrace the Lucia Child of Sweden, the Sicilian customs or particular family traditions, light should play a prominent role in the feast!
There was a real St. Lucia, as you can see from Basilica of St. Lucy in Syracuse, Sicily that holds her relics. There are pictures here of the relics. And don't miss the beautiful depiction in the basilica by Caravaggio "Death of St. Lucia".
I don't have a girl, so we don't play up the Swedish Lucia much, yet. I decorate with a few Swedish items, and pictures of St. Lucy. I have a Brass Lucia Crown with real candles that I received as a Christmas present one year, a Dala horse, and Swedish Angel Chimes. I had a set of these as a young girl and loved seeing the candles and hearing the sweet soft chimes. I found mine at an antique store for a few dollars, and I thought it would be a perfect addition for a feast with light.
I wanted to decorate my brass wreath with lingonberry leaves, which are used in Sweden, but not native to USA. After much searching I found at one of the craft stores a long artificial garland with similar leaves and berries. Perhaps one day I'll have a daughter who can wear the Lucia Crown. It seems that even in Sweden battery operated candles are the way-to-go. Safety first!
Some craft and party ideas:
Not all traditions for St. Lucia are from Sweden. There is a Croatian and Hungarian custom of planting the St. Lucy Wheat on this day. See St. Lucy and the Christmas Wheat from The Year and Our Children and Christmas Wheat from Maria von Trapp.
There have been a few terrific blog posts in the past two years on preparing for the feast of St. Lucia from families who have experience, in baking, reading, crafting and celebrating:
Images: This site has almost every image of St. Lucia on holycards imaginable.
Catalogs: These have great ideas for a Swedish unit or Swedish Lucia items. I've used both and have been very pleased.
Websites and Links:
Not all foods for this feast day are Swedish. Italians and Sicilians have some wonderful recipes for celebrating this day, too. There are quite a few recipes on Catholic Culture including St. Lucia Cats, St. Lucy Buns, St. Lucia Crown... The use of saffron in some of these recipes points back to the light reference, with the yellow reminding us of sunlight. See also:
CD - Lucia Celebration. I don't see it mentioned on the page, but when I ordered this cd I also received piano sheet music.
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation every corner of our day. Amen.
St. Lucia, Pray for Us.
Written by Jennifer G. Miller
This piece will seem a bit dark amidst all the bright and beautiful posts on this lovely blog, but not everyone in the cave on that Holy Night was clean and fine and fair. There were shadows of sin the stable, folks who were fallen and struggling. That holy infant came for the weak, the sorrowful, the unprotected. Sadly, there are children in our lives who still need a Savior mightily because they are weak, sorrowful and unprotected. Like Mary, we are called to cradle them, called to fold them into our mantle of gentleness. She showed us how to nurture and nurture is our call in this holy season.
It is generally acknowledged that the holiday season can be difficult for adults. This time of year, headlines at the newsstands tout all sorts of ways to “bust stress.” Ironically, one of the suggestions is often to look at the holiday through “the eyes of a child.” But holidays can be very stressful for children, too.
Consider the child who is anxious about whether or when he will see an estranged parent. Consider the child whose parent has an addiction. Consider the shy child who would really prefer to stay at home with only his immediate family. Consider the child who likes his routine. Consider the child with autism, sensory integration, or other neurological challenges. The hullabaloo and the expectations of the season only accentuate the very real stresses that exist for these children.
My favorite parenting author, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes in Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles,
"Stress sneaks up on us, and as a result we often don't even realize it's taking its toll. Kids never say, ‘Gee, Mom or Dad, I'm really hurting.’ Instead they throw tantrums, hit their siblings or the neighbor kids, forget their homework, start having toileting accidents... complain of headaches and stomachaches and refuse to sleep in their own bed or go upstairs alone."
"And to make matters worse, 90% of their stress is tied to our own."
Children sense our tension. We compound it with disruptions in routines, sleep deprivation, and all sorts of poor eating adventures. And, though we certainly don’t set out to, we put pressure on them, too. They know they are supposed to be happy and they are troubled when the party that is supposed to be fun is really very trying. They know they are supposed to behave especially well in front of Great Aunt Hilda and instead they have a total meltdown.
Kurcinka writes, "Holidays and traveling are supposed to be fun, which is why the stress they create can sneak up on you. You want to ignore it. You're supposed to be having fun, but the disruption of routines, guests and new foods can raise stress levels quickly and leave you in full view of all of the relatives or the public at large dealing with a kid flooded with cortisol."
Is there a child in your family who is especially sensitive to his environment, who is more perceptive, needs more structure, feels more intensely? That’s the child who needs your care even more this time of year. Is there a child in your neighborhood who is missing a divorced parent right now? Who is wondering if the adult in his life can stay sober through December? He’s dreading Christmas. What can you do to help the littlest of God’s children to really experience the joy of the season?
Kurcinka suggests that during times of stress we need to:
1.Nurture more and to recognize the child’s need to be nurtured.
For a child of your own, this might mean being especially attuned to what is important for his own calm. Does he absolutely need ten hours of sleep at night? Is a nap a non-negotiable? Make no exceptions; guarantee sleep. And rub his back at the end of the day, ensuring he will drift off peacefully. Is the huge family gathering and the peppering of questions more than his shy, sweet mind can manage? Limit yourself to smaller gatherings, rehearse responses, and rescue him when he’s cornered by well-meaning relatives and blushing a deep crimson that puts Santa’s suit to shame. Be there. Hold him. If he’s an infant or a toddler, hold him almost all the time. Provide a refuge for him in a sling. Rock and sing. Rock and read. If he’s older, sit and cuddle in the quiet with a good Christmas story.
Limit television. It’s far too easy to plug a child in so we can go get “something productive” accomplished. This works against us. The child is now wired and he’s not feeling nurtured. We’ve pushed him away and we’ve fueled his stress with a medium that usually does little or no good for a needy child. Let some of your own expectations of appearances go in order to be very available to your child.
Kurcinka writes: "Stress disrupts our basic sense of security, and your child needs you to help her feel secure, just like you did when she was a baby. And she needs you to do it proactively… Proactively means recognizing the stress behaviors and the situations that cause stress for your family and consciously making the decision to slow things down and nurture more...Little things such as asking your child to help, or offering to carry him before he asks you to. It's essential that you offer support before your child asks for it because by doing so you allow him to make the decision:"Yes, I need support right now," or "No, I can do this on my own." He feels empowered and secure.
"As you work with your child take the time to savor his presence. Revel in the memories of your child's infancy... Absorb the joy he finds in being with you. These small, thoughtful actions and words will communicate loudly and clearly to your child, "I am here. I am available. You can trust that I will not abandon you in your distress."
There are children whose parents cannot nurture. They are not physically present or they are emotionally unable. Look for those children in your life. Offer to bake with them, include them in a family meal, share a good book, be a safe haven. The child will absorb the nurturing environment in your house. He will feel safe. And to some, degree, he will take the safe feeling with him. Make a particular effort to include those children when you are doing something faith-based. Something as simple as watching your family light an advent wreath can inspire in the child a lifetime desire to live the liturgical year. There is no greater gift you can give than to nurture a child whose own parents cannot.
2.Create stability and predictability where you can.
You know the rituals of every day life that are important to your children. Make sure they don’t get pushed aside for a whole season of special occasions. A story every night at bedtime becomes even more important when it is the trigger for a good night’s sleep after an over-extended day. Post a calendar and talk about the plans for Advent and Christmas. Count down days to events and be certain that the child knows exactly what is coming and when. Remember, they don’t hold the Palm Pilot; they are not masters of their own time. And they are completely at your mercy to know what comes next and how to cope. They want to know from minute to minute what to expect. They need time to prepare, even to prepare for the happy things.
3.Create rituals that connect you.
This is a beautiful season of rituals. As Catholics, our holy mother, the Church, has blessed us with a treasure chest of rituals and traditional celebrations of feasts. Don’t do them all. Instead, choose wisely. Do only those things which will bring you closer to each other and closer to God. Your goal is to connect to your child and to share the wonder of the Christ Child. Keep that goal at the forefront. Take the Blessed Mother as your role model. Make it a season of nurturing and gentle kindness and let the children come to you for safe haven and holy passage.
Posted by Elizabeth Foss
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most familiar New World image of Mary and the only true picture of the Mother of God. As the patroness of the Americas and of the unborn, she holds a special place in the hearts of many. Each year on December 12 we commemorate the days in 1531 when the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a poor Indian, at Tepeyec, a hill northwest of Mexico City. Juan Dieogo's feast day is today, December 9. This year we observe the 475th year since the apparition.
Her feast day falls just a few days after the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Interestingly, the apparition of Mary to Juan Diego is one of the first apparitions of Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception. In the image she is pregnant - encinta in Spanish, meaning "with a ribbon around her waist" which is the sign of pregnancy in the old Spanish world. It is providential that the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe fall in Advent. It gives us an opportunity to focus on Mary, who has been called the bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament - between expectation and fulfillment.
The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most popular Marian feat in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Following this feast day, between December 16 and 24, the community celebrates Posadas. These two celebrations examplify the Hispanic experience of Advent. Having lived for several years in New Mexico as a teenager, I fell in love with the traditions, the style, and the culture of the southwest. I enjoy incorporating some of that into our Advent and Christmas preparation and celebration. There are many ways that you can also. Pick and choose from the various activties suggested to create your family's celebration.
Before Juan Diego saw the Virgin Mary he heard celestial music and smelled flowers. His tilma was later filled with the roses that Our Lady directed him to pick. So music and flowers are central to the celebration of the feast day as are the processions and veneration of the image. If you have a statue or image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the home it should be placed in a location of prominence and decorated with flowers (paper or real) - see craft section below. If you are in need of an image, votive candles, also can be found at Mexican grocers or sometimes in the Mexican food sections of other grocery stores. An image can also be downloaded for use from this Our Lady of Guadalupe page. Guadalupe retablo and Guadalupe ornament are available for you to use on an Advent or Christmas tree, or you can make your own - see craft section below.
Mañanitas are traditional Mexican songs that people sing early in the morning on birthdays and other special days. Often people are awakened with this song on their birthdays. Traditionally this song is sung to Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day either at midnight or the break of dawn to greet her on this day. You can start the day with a family serenade to Our Lady.
Las Mananitas (click on audio link to listen. Audio player will open in a new window.)
Estas son las mañanitas
que cantaba el Rey David
Hoy por ser día de tu santo
te las cantamos a ti.
Despierta, mi bien, despierta,
mira que ya amaneció
ya los pajarillos cantan,
la luna ya se metio.
These are the morning songs
that King David used to sing.
Because today is your birthday
We are singing them to you.
Awaken, my dear, awaken
and see that he day has dawned,
now the little birds are singing,
and the moon has set.
For the one on the left, I used one of the unfinished ceramic/plaster ornaments from the craft shop, painted it blue with white embellishments, then decoupaged a picture (downloaded from the Internet) of Our Lady of Guadalupe onto it.
For the one on the right Jenn, from Family in Feast and Feria, used polymer clay, rolled into ovals, rimmed by rolling the sides of the clay in to make a grotto and baked. They were then embellished with metallic markers and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (from a holy card) was decoupaged in.
Paper activity books:
Of course no festival, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, would be complete without some authentic food. Dinner could include traditional foods like enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tacos or pozole. Biscochitos are a standard Christmas season cookie and are served with wine, or hot chocolate for the children.
Biscochitos (Mexican Christmas Cookies)
1 cup lard or shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp red wine, brandy or sherry (or sub. orange juice)
1 tsp crushed anise seed
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 cup sugar mixed w/ 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350
Beat lard/shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in the 2/3 cup sugar, then the egg. Beat in 2 Tbsp wine/sherry and anise seed. Stir in flour (and salt baking powder if using), adding more wine as needed to form a soft dough. Let stand for 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes as desired (fleur-de-lis is common shape). Dip the top side of each cookie in the cinnamon-sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 or until slightly browned.
O God of power and mercy. You blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters. Through Your justice present in our hearts, may Your peace reign in the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. One God for ever and ever. Amen.
Posted by Mary M on December 09, 2006 at 12:40 AM in Advent, Advent: Crafts and Activities, Advent: Dec. 09, Memorial of St. Juan Diego, Advent: Dec. 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Advent: Music, Crafts, Written by Mary Machado | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas