Light up your Advent: Resources to make the most of the season

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Article Saints, Feasts, and Seasons
Have yourself a merry little Christmas--but don't let Advent pass you by.

Advent is here, and the countdown to Christmas is on. But don't get too hung up on planning for December 25--the four weeks leading up to Christ's birth (and the days after it) are just as important. If you're having some trouble blocking out the holiday madness and settling down for some Advent reflection, here are some essays, blogs, and other resources to help you get in the spirit.

Scripture reflections

Birth Announcements
It's hard to know what to make of the infancy narratives in some but not all of the gospels. Bible scholar Laurie Brink, O.P. digs out the truth among the differing facts.

The greatest story never foretold?
Was Isaiah really talking about Jesus of Nazareth? In this U.S. Catholic interview, scripture scholar Pauline A. Viviano shares with us what to make of those Advent Old Testament readings.

Advent and Christmas practices

I'll be green for Christmas
Our celebration of Jesus' incarnation should bring joy to the world rather than destruction to the world, argues former U.S. Catholic associate editor Megan Sweas.

Standing room only
More than the Magi visit the Christ child in Santiago Cortes-Sojberg's nativity scene. His crowded creche shows how Jesus came to all of humanity.

Open some doors this Advent
In a classic from 2000, Sister Joyce Rupp encourages hospitality at the holidays, even if you'd rather not let your in-laws in your house.

Unwrap the gifts of Advent
This Advent season, shop the scriptures rather than the malls to prepare for Christmas. Sister Joan Chittister looked at Advent scripture from 2001, but her reading will still give you cheer.  

The more days the merrier
The 12 days of Christmas aren't just a song. Nick Wagner offers 12 ways to continue celebrating Christmas after December 25.

Family

Christmas presence
Give your kids yourself for Christmas this year, writes At Home With our Faith editor Cathy O'Connell Cahill. Find more family resources at homefaith.com.

'Twas the fight before Christmas: A survival guide to a fairly happy holidays
Family drama bringing you down? Leslie Scanlon shares how Catholics can get through the holiday despite loneliness, grief, and arguments.

Get wrapped up in family traditions this Christmas
Tradition! There's nothing like it to teach your children what the holiday season is really about, writes Mary O'Connell.

Reflections

A reading from the prophet Bonnie
Father Ronald Raab, C.S.C., shares how an unruly visitor brought Jesus into his parish's midst.

Away from the manger 
Pieces of her aunt's nativity scene popped up in unexpected places, reminding Frances Leap of the Incarnation.

What child is this
What does the Lord's birthday mean 2,000 years later? Megan McKenna offers the hopeful vision that the Incarnation of God in human flesh still matters.

What are you waiting for?
Advent is the liturgical season of vigilance or, to put it more mundanely, of waiting, Father Robert Barron writes.

Have yourself a defiant little Christmas
Defy winter and embrace the light, greenness, and love of Christmas, writes John Shea.

What are your favorite Advent practices or resources? Share them in the comments below!

Image by Liesel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons