Catholics get the dregs of commercial Christmas--and that's awesome

Christmas morning! Bright, glorious, and deeply happy. Sean and Joe tiptoed out at 11:30pm to head to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but even with that, everyone slept well. Our once-yearly allotment of bacon for breakfast was met, and after all that we headed to Mass as a family.

But the next day, the day after Christmas? Just as wonderful. Truth:

Yeeeeeeee-ahhhh. I love Christmas break. I wake up on December 26 with a happy twitch in my fingers, which are ready to snap up bargains and swipe my debit card at all the big box stores, which are groaning under the weight of all the clearance Christmas merchandise they've got to get rid of. Sean can usually take a week off work for Christmas, and so once my clearance Christmas shopping itch has been scratched, we dive into a 12-day spree of FUN STUFF which more often than not is free or dirt cheap.

Unlike the vast wasteland of summertime with its frequently empty days, whiny or bored kids and no end in sight, Christmas break to me feels like one of those Advent calendars that opens up a new door every day in December with a TREAT. But those calendars kind of get it wrong, you know? Advent is the little lent, the preparation time, the fast before the feast. And then Christmas comes, and BAM! Catholics Gone Liturgically Wild.

Catholics have scraggly, Charlie Brown-esque Christmas trees, with bare patches and half-dead limbs. Why? They go buy them on Gaudete Sunday, or on the 23rd, or even on Christmas Eve, and all the great trees are gone, and the ones left are marked down 50%. AND THAT'S OK! Do you know what you do with a Christmas tree? YOU COVER IT IN PRETTY STUFF.

Catholics have great Christmas decorations. Why? We scoop up everything on SUPER clearance on the 26th when stores are practically giving it away. At 50, 60, heck, 90% off, you can get all the garland, twinkle lights, candles, shatterproof ornaments (obviously) and gift wrap your little liturgical heart desires--and spend about $3.26 for all of it.

Catholics can skip the lines at all those fun Christmas-light shows and neighborhood light attractions. Why? We go on the 26th, which is usually the last night those things run--and barely anyone else in the world still cares to go see them at that point.

Catholics have the best New Year's Eve, New Year's and Epiphany parties. Why? IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS, BABY! We've been saving our eggnog, our champagne and our shrimp cocktails for these moments. We know between Christmas and Twelfth Night, you've got more solemnities than you can shake a candy cane at. Live it up.

The last two scrawny crabs in the seafood department, plus steamed artichokes and GF noodles with mizithra: All just vehicles for melted butter, all in honor of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Our Epiphany included King Cake cupcakes. Why? Because gold and purple and green sprinkles were about $0.30 each in the clearance section of Walmart.

This is all to say, of course, that my big kids are now back in school, and we took the tree down yesterday (a fire hazard, truly) and packed the stockings away, and now it's just me and the littles at home. My Nativity sets are still up and will be for another week or so. I love seeing the Christmas season come and cover the house and our hearts with the glorias and hosannas announcing the arrival of the Baby King to the world. We're still listening to Christmas music in the afternoons, and Baby Steve still belts out Joy to the World to announce to me he's woken up from his nap.

My Christmas Decorations Closet of Bargains is mostly closed up for the year, but you can bet that if I can still find some strands of twinkle lights marked down to $0.80 at the grocery store, I'm snapping those puppies up.


celebrate December's saints in 5 minutes with $5 (or less)

Ahh, there's nothing like celebrating saints' feast days to make a mom feel either stressed out or inadequate! Woohoo!

But here's what I think. I've seen an exchange like this happen many times: The mom of a baby and a toddler looks at a mother of nine and says, "HOW do you DO IT? I only have two and I'm drowning."

And the seasoned mom says, "Honey, you are given the grace you need for the battle you're fighting. However many kids you have right now, that's all you can handle! We're all maxed out where we are."

I think that's it, too, for the big bad world of beautiful liturgical living. I've lived through so many Decembers during which I forgot to reserve and check out the St. Nicholas books from the library ahead of time, and also didn't have enough spare money just floating around in the budget to go buy us a copy. I didn't know how other people did it.

But you know what? The kids know who St. Nicholas is. They know he's the patron saint of children, and they know he was generous. They know St. Nicholas loved Jesus and lived his life for Him. And they know that because we told them. Not a book or a clever video. Just us, the parents. 

So, all that to say: I don't think it's all about the books you own or grab from the library, nor is it all the correct food you cook to celebrate and keep the feast. Those things are well and GOOD, really, very very good! But they're not the be all and end all of infusing home with faith. You use the grace you have right now to do what you can handle.

These are the things we'll be doing in our home:

Thursday, December 6 (tomorrow!): St. Nicholas
Do: Set out the kids' shoes tonight, and fill 'em with some treats for the morning. I've heard from moms who *forget* to buy chocolate coins that their children will still joyfully accept quarters, dimes, and stray tic tacs. (That mom may have been myself.)
Eat: Candy canes!
Read: quick read for little ears on St. Nicholas of Myra

Friday, December 7: St. Ambrose
Do: Just say it's the feast of St. Ambrose. It's a cool name to know. :)
Eat: Toast or tea with honey! He's the patron saint of bee keepers. Our little Ambrose gets to pick the dinner menu, as is the tradition of saint-name-days in our house.
Read: St. Ambrose: Strangest Life Story Ever? 8 things to know and share

Saturday, December 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Eat: Ice cream! Anything to celebrate for dessert!
Read: great read aloud here from Peanut Butter & Grace

Wednesday, December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe
Do: Just tell 'em what day it is.
Eat: Tacos! Burritos! Nachos! Viva la shredded cheese!
Read: Meet Juan Diego

Thursday, December 13: St. Lucy
Do: Light an extra candle at the dinner table (besides the advent candle), since Lucy means light.
Also, Lucy is (rightly) such a popular name, so tell kids that if they have a Lucy they know or in their class, wish them a happy feast day.
Read: Saint Lucy

Monday, December 17: Start the O Antiphons!
Do: Sing one verse "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" as your before dinner prayer starting on the 17th, going to the next verse/antiphon each day, until Dec. 23. Here's a great link with all of the verses and their Latin counterparts (for you fancy folk).

Tuesday, December 25: Christmas
Do: PARTY!!!

That takes us to the Christmas Octave, and that will be a separate post. Blessed Advent! 


finally pulling the plug on PBS Kids

This isn't a shocker, of course. I've already ranted on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary about the sing-song nihilism of Daniel Tiger's little ditties in episode 31.

And, I've always had an eye out for the subtle suggestions, the little winks, the discreet nods at the liberal agenda, sprinkled in the PBS Kids shows.

But today, I didn't see a wink or a nod--no, today it was a straight up high five to indoctrinating my kids. This PBS Kids commercial aired this morning while my little ones were watching, I'm ashamed to say.

Come and see, come and see
Come and see my family
I got two awesome daddies 
And a brother who's just three
I like them, they like me
Now come and see my family

So, that's that, then! We'll be taking the same approach as we did with Netflix, and removing it from our tv immediately. Although unfortunately, we could actually cancel our subscription to Netflix, whereas PBS will continue to receive our money through taxpayer subsidies. Ugh.

Anyone else taken this plunge and gone cold turkey on PBS Kids? I put a Brother Francis DVD on for Gus this afternoon and, surprisingly, she didn't melt into a puddle of Let's Go Luna-deprived despair. So that's a win. I'd love some good recommendations for shows or DVD series appropriate for the 3-5 year old range.


**GIVEAWAY!** Enter to win new Catholic Answers book!

This book is so great that I ALREADY gave my own radio interview review copy away to a friend who's dealing with a teenager's angst over thinking she's bisexual.

But Made This Way: How to Prepare Kids to Face Today's Tough Moral Issues isn't exactly a handbook for just raising teens or navigating puberty. It's a solid resource for parents of little and really little kids, too.

How can that be, that a book about moral formation can be just as useful to parents of teens as it is to parents of toddlers?

BEHOLD THE GENIUS of Leila Miller and Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn.

I interviewed Leila earlier this year when the second edition of her great book Raising Chaste Catholic Men was released. She's a veteran mom of eight nearly-grown kids who has both the courage and the passionate conviction to share her strategies on preparing kids to face all the cultural landmines they'll have to navigate now, especially those related to sexuality.

In each chapter, Leila and Trent take an issue (say, transgender identity), then explain what the Church teaches on it. Then they give separate advice for what to say about this issue to little kids, and what to say to bigger kids.

Leila talked about this strategic approach (big kids vs. little kids) when I interviewed her for Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary--listen here or here.

I think a common problem faced by parents in my generation is that we've witnessed a vast--not to mention fast--erosion of the moral culture around us. Just three short years ago, gay "marriage" became the law of the land by way of the Supreme Court. It feels like the whole transgender bathroom mess has only been around for the last 18 months or so. And sure, we're the generation that "survived Roe v. Wade," but what fluency we've gained in speaking about pro-life causes, we definitely lack in speaking about and defending Church teaching on issues related to no-holds-barred sexuality.

When my generation was starting kindergarten, our parents weren't tongue tied, trying to explain why ladies can't marry ladies, why boys shouldn't be able to go into the girls' bathroom, and why IVF isn't an ok way to make a baby. These issues weren't even on the horizon.

All that's changed. I'm so grateful for Leila and Trent for writing such an accessible, practical, and easy to understand book, and I'm thrilled to have two copies to give away!

To enter to win, just leave a comment below (and make sure to enter your email when you post a comment, so I can contact you!). For additional entries, head over to the domestic apologist IG account and find the post for this giveaway (it has the same picture above of yours truly).

The giveaway will close on Friday, November 2, and the winners will be notified by email. Good luck!