Hope For When Your Advent Looks Different

I love this first week of Advent, where the theme of this time is the idea of hope. I want to encourage you today that just because your Advent looks different, it doesn’t mean that it is wrong. Traditions can be established and can also change over time to better meet the needs of your family.

Maybe you are setting up new family traditions for Advent. It takes time to build traditions, and it really can’t be done in one year.

Maybe your children have grown up, and you are waiting for them to arrive home for the holidays.

Maybe your children are a mixture of different ages, and things need to change a little bit to meet the needs of all the children and teenagers in the family.

All of these things are okay!

If you are trying to establish new traditions, I think this back post would be very helpful to you: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/06/christine-natales-musings-on-saint-nicholas-day-and-starting-new-holiday-traditions/ , You can layer simple ideas in over time. If your children are very small, just a few well -placed activities can be wonderful. It doesn’t have to be all the things you read about on social media.

If you are waiting for your young adult children to come home and you feel your Advent is remarkably different, I advise you to be gentle with yourself with all your feelings. All your feelings are valid. It is okay to be sad or to feel a sense of grieving for when your children were small.

I think it is okay to choose some of your Advent traditions and do them just for yourself or to find ways to translate your traditions for your young adults. Perhaps you will send a St. Nicholas Day package to your young adult, or perhaps you will bake cookies later in the season so you can do it together. Whatever fills you is important and you can determine the course of your new traditions.

If your children are all different ages, I think it is very important to choose the traditions that meet not only your small children, but also your teens. Your teens may secretly enjoy the things your younger children are enjoying, or they may enjoy being the keeper of the magic for younger children. However, they may also crave something geared towards their own age group that includes their friends. Ask them about what would make the holiday meaningful for them.

I would love to hear about your family’s traditions for this season.



8 thoughts on “Hope For When Your Advent Looks Different

  1. Thank you for the reference, Carrie. I also have written a “letter” to young parents about doing what their heart calls for. Please let me know if you want to post a link either to the Advent Steiner Group on Facebook or a direct link to the dropbox file. Blessings on all of you for the Holy Season!

    • I would love to do both! Lots of love to you and so many blessings. I so appreciate you and your mentorship!
      The most merry of everything to you,

  2. This is how I’ve been feeling this whole year when it comes to holidays and the seasons: different. We’re expecting a baby December 31st, so it has made for a “clunky” sort of year (spring/summer gardening and activities were tough due to early pregnancy, for fall cleanup I’m just too big to do much bending, Thanksgiving was tough to cook/bake, etc.). Now most advent/Christmas plans have been heavily scaled back because I just can’t move much during these last few weeks. I feel bad for my other four children, because they’ve already come to expect certain traditions, but luckily they are excited for baby to come too.

    We celebrate advent in the traditional way with fasting and repentant reflection (not as heavy as Lent, but similar), and gradually crescendo towards Christmas Day (we celebrate the season all the way until February 2nd at Candlemas). We put out decorations a little at a time, and the holiday lights don’t come on until the 25th. We’ve been focusing more on Christmas books, toys, and coloring instead of the larger crafts, activities, etc. that I had planned, mostly because I can’t get around to them, being due soon!

    We have our advent wreath out, and I will do my best to make a new treat each Sunday of advent, which we’ve done in the past (none of my relatives bake so it all falls on me if we want festive treats: I have to spread it out!). New rule for this year though: we taste test a bit of the treat, and then save the rest in the freezer for Christmas Day: no picking at yummies throughout the week! A test in the virtue of patience, as well as more quiet religious reflection for this year’s Christmas season!

    Thank you for your posts, Carrie. I read all of them, but don’t always comment. Happy Advent!

    • Hi Kelsey! I am sending you all my love for your upcoming birth – our middle child was our December baby (born prematurely) and it was a quiet Christmas that year. I think you are making beautiful memories for your children. Where you may see that you are falling short, I promise you that your children have nothing but love and wonder in their eyes this season. What is Advent but the slowing down and finding the most meaningful things in being together as we prepare, anticipate, and love one another well.
      Please send me an email when you are have your little one ! admin@theparentingpassageway.com
      Lots of love,

  3. Our traditions have changed over time as the children have grown. For me the most important thing is setting the intention to do something and thinking about that in good time to make it happen. I always try and keep time for doing little/resting/pausing and not filling our days with so much that we are exhausted at the end. We do a lot of crafting/creative activities, read stories and poems that have changed a lot over time. I do love so much about this time of year, but I think it can always be a time when we can be overwhelmed not just by how much is going on but also as you so rightly say, trying to keep up with what everyone else is sharing online and thinking that we need/must be doing it all too.

    • Hi Sustainable Mum!
      I love what you said – we set the intention and work to make it happen, but we definitely don’t have to do it all!
      So true! Blessings, Carrie

  4. Thank you for this post, Carrie! Our family’s Advent is very different this year (and was last year as well) and I think there’s a bit of melancholy about that, at least for me and my 14 year old (who loves traditions). Last year, my husband and I had just recovered from covid so we were very low energy, plus we had all moved out of our rental (by necessity) and started traveling full time. We had some beautiful experiences (2.5 weeks on St. Croix in the USVI, followed by spending Christmas and January in FL near my FIL and swimming in the Atlantic on Christmas Day); but it was all so very different! We are used to counting on a snowy December, skiing, cutting a tree from our own land, making handmade wreaths and garlands, living in the country; and instead we sat in the sun and swam at the beach and had my FIL’s white artificial tree and so on. Ha!

    This year, we have taken our traveling overseas and are “world schooling”, which comes with so many amazing experiences and also plenty of challenges. In fact, we are currently in Florence and everyone came down with a fever and stomach bug, so most of us missed the Uffizi gallery -argh! Also, while I am loving all the Christmas cheer I see in Italy, it definitely feels lonely to be so far from family, friends and church community. To anchor us, we have been singing O Come O Come Emmanuel every morning, adding a new verse each week and alternating English and Latin each day. And I sing People Look East or the Star Path song when I put my younger children (ages 6 and 8) to bed. We bought a sweet little paper advent calendar one day in Siena, which the kids were very excited about, and I am hoping to slip out this weekend and find something special to drop in their shoes for St. Nicholas’ Day. When we transition to our next airbnb on 12/10, we will try to do a little decorating and baking. My teen is especially determined to bake St. Lucia buns since that is her names day and we missed it last year when we were in the Caribbean. And I want to drive to different villages to see the “presepi” or nativity crèche scenes, and all the different lights and decorations, as well as to try the various festal breads and sweets. But I want to make room for the nostalgia and melancholy as well. Blessed Advent!

    • Hi Lydia!
      Oh, the bittersweet melancholy that comes with traveling and worldschooling! To see all the beautiful things across the world, and yet at times, underscores where home can be, or the growing and realization that home is where you are. There are certainly a different set of holiday challenges when one is abroad.
      I love that you were in St. Croix last year; my husband’s family went from Denmark to St. Croix to the mainland so we still have cousins and such in the Virgin Islands and our son was baptized at the cathedral in Christiansted (Episcopal).
      Your Advent traditions will serve you well and I am sending you peace and joy.
      Much love,

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