If there’s one thing I picture most vividly when I think ahead to Advent, it’s moments with my family. I remember racing with my siblings to be the first to hang the ornament on our felt Advent calendar every morning. I smile recalling my toddler’s sweet face, glowing in the light of our Advent candles last year. I’m already looking forward to praying the St. Andrew novena alongside my husband (whose middle name is Andrew) again.
Cultivating Closeness with Your Family this Advent
When I look back without my rose-colored glasses on, though, I also see so many moments of rush, distraction, and stress in the Advents of my past.
Looking ahead to this year, I want less of all of that. Instead, I want to enter into the Christmas season at the end of Advent closer to Christ and closer to the people in my life than ever before.
It may feel a little early to start thinking about Advent. Since it can take some time to get our hearts and plans in the right place, though, here are three simple ideas for cultivating closeness with your family this Advent.
Carve Out Quality Time
Ever since I started distinguishing between the Advent and Christmas seasons, I’ve realized what a blessing it is to put so many activities on hold until December 25. Sure, I aim to complete my Christmas shopping by the end of Cyber Week. Other than that, though, the weeks leading up to Christmas have felt mostly leisurely and slow over the past few years. This intentional margin creates the perfect space for quality time with family members.
Cultivate Closeness through Service
Living Advent well presents a beautiful opportunity to be a light and an encouragement to others.
Maybe your mom is swept up in the chaos of last-minute shopping and gift wrapping. Invite her to take a break and meet you for coffee, cinnamon rolls, and a few hours of reminiscing about childhood holiday memories.
Maybe your husband is working extra-long hours to be able to take time off for Christmas. Surprise him with a simple, inexpensive date night. My favorite includes driving around to admire the lights in the area with mugs of hot chocolate in hand.
Even if you’re not a “crafty mom” (hand raised high), find just one Advent craft on Pinterest that looks manageable for you and your little ones to tackle.
Coordinate siblings spread across different states for a big family Google Hangout one evening.
No matter your season of life, your skill set, or even your love language, it’s almost impossible to grow closer to others without spending time with them. Family is certainly no exception.
Pray for Your Family
More times than I want to admit, I’ve been struck by the realization that I don’t pray for my family as fervently as I should. I want to be the biggest prayer warrior for my husband, son, parents, and siblings. Even so, I still forget their important days, the struggles they’re facing, the delights they’re rejoicing in, and the intentions they’ve shared with me all too often.
This year, our Blessed is She Advent Journal serves as the perfect reminder to lift up our families in prayer daily. Centered on Jesus’ own family and genealogy, All the Generations leads us through the people who surrounded and preceded the Word made Flesh.
As we dive into this real-life family, who walked and breathed and shared meals and passed on traditions, we’ll be praying for healing in our families. There is so much to learn from this deeply diverse group of people, culminating in the perfection of the Holy Family and in the Savior of the world.
Especially if quality family time feels impossible, remember that praying for your family is the one thing you can always do, no matter the situation. Division, strained relationships, unresolved hurts, betrayals, and so much more are very real pain points in so many of our families. These deep struggles can make the community aspect of the Advent and Christmas seasons especially raw and painful.
Our hope and prayer is that this year’s Advent Journal assists all of us in praying in a meaningful way for those tender areas of our most intimate relationships.Especially if quality family time feels impossible, remember that praying for your family is the one thing you can always do. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Other Ways to Pray
Along with praying through our Advent Journal, consider committing to a daily Rosary for your family’s intentions, lifting them up through the novena to the Holy Family, or offering up Masses for them.
Pray With Your Family
This last point may be the most challenging one. We all come from diverse families and have experienced different upbringings, which may or may not have included prayer at all. Approach this goal with love and gentleness, especially if your family does not share your Faith.
Praying with family can range drastically. But no matter how small your opportunities to do so may be, consider embracing them. That might mean attending Eucharistic Adoration with your whole family. Or, it might be as simple as asking your family to join you in a blessing before dinner. No prayer offered up to Our Lord with a sincere heart goes unheard or unloved!
How do you cultivate closeness in your family during Advent?