Today is the last day of November, so today we are taking down the last of the month long All Soul's Celebration. I don't want to mislead you into thinking that we are so vigorously diligent about celebrating the Liturgical Year, we have simply made a point of picking and choosing those celebrations that our Domestic Church shall emphasize. Our family believes very strongly that attaining Heaven is a grand accomplishment, indeed the ultimate accomplishment, and so we give over some space in our home and our lives every November to give thanks and praise for such a wonder as a life well lived and a Savior such as ours.
To be honest, last year we did November better. We sang saint songs most nights, then read stories about their heroic lives. This year we had a special dinner with friends and family to kick off the celebration and tied saint cards to a tree branch mounted in a vase. We talked about each child's patron saint here and there, but we weren't as good about bringing the saints' good examples to mind daily. It was a little lackluster this year. That said, the best thing about family celebrations is that memories are made even of the mundane. The next best thing about family celebrations is that there is always next year.
On to Advent. Another very Catholic celebration is the month long fast and preparation for celebrating Christ's Incarnation. Christmas and Advent for Catholics is both a celebration of His coming into the world as a baby and His coming again at the Second Coming. Our readings this month will focus both on the Old Testament prophecies of Christ and the New Testament descriptions of the Day of Judgement. Like all things we Catholics do, there is layer upon layer of Truth to be discovered here. This season asks, "Are you ready?" How are you making ready to invite your Lord into your home, heart, and family in a more intense and personal manner over the next several weeks?
Unlike our All Souls celebration throughout November, our Advent is intense. Our children like the presents of Christmas, but the time of year they love the most is this. Part of our Advent celebration includes lighting our Advent candles each night, singing a hymn, sharing aloud acts of charity and kindness we have done throughout the day (more on that in a special Advent post), reflecting on Bible readings, and intense prayers for a renewal of our relationship with Christ. The other part of our Advent is focused on our stewardship. We begin with a month-long winnowing down of our material possessions, passing along any items that are not treasured, utilized, or necessary so that others may receive the blessing of the use of them (we got an early start on that this year actually). We also clean and polish our belongings and our home. When Christmas finally comes, we have made ready and made room both physically and spiritually. Christmas and all the prayers of thankfulness and praise and the cookies, candy, and caroling, actually begins on December 25. It does not end there as it does in the Protestant and secular calendars, but instead it carries us through the secular New Year and beyond.
|Yeah, so...this is us.|
Because we sound pretty awesome in theory, I'd like to share with you a photo from our family photo shoot. We call it "The Stomp" and my husband is still convinced we should send it out as our family photo this year. We settled on sharing it on Facebook instead.
The story behind it is this. My husband broke his foot on this summer's trip back East, so he had to attend his sister's funeral in a cast. While still in Virginia, there was even talk of surgery and pins which thankfully was not necessary. This photo shoot took place days after we returned home, so not only was he in physical pain and attempting to overcome it, he and the whole family was still in shock and sadness from the sudden loss of our sister, our auntie, my son's Godmother Catherine. We were all feeling strained.
But this? This painful moment was the one that reset the entire tone of the photo session. Once my husband got over the pain and saw that Hannah Lou had caught the exact moment of the stomp on film, he laughed so hard the whole family dissolved into seven little puddles of giggles. Eight if you count the photographer. It is one of my favorite family moments, forever.
This is us for real, imperfect, stepping on each other's toes, and coming together enough to make a picture or two out of hundreds look good. We Martins often don't make it pretty, we might not even get it done, but we're in it together at any rate. And by the way, between this picture and the last one taken that day, one of those heavy stools you see us using as props fell over onto my foot. Those sweet looking kids took both parents out!
In other news, we have a kitten. His name is Jabberwocky Hawkeye Smith. Hawkeye is the cool name my son picked out from the movie The Avengers. Jabberwocky is the ironic name I picked out for his loud mouth. Our dear friends picked him especially for us because he was not a talkative kitty. Fact is, until he came to live with us, he just didn't have much to say.
P.S. The Smith is just to prove my point that he is a kitty, no relation.
P.P.S. Don't think we have anything against cats. The dog doesn't even rate a last name.
P.P.P.S. Please send all your kitty and/or dog defending hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the rest of the pics!
|The two who started all the Martin Mayhem...|
|"Plotting to take over the world."|
|"Charmed, I'm sure you are!"|
|"Do you have a favorite freckle?"|
|"Just wait until I hug you. You'll be in my power!"|
|"I have a joke for you!"|
(They all end with "...on your head!")
|All it took was 227,346,017 shots to get it in one take!|