We're in the midst of the Advent ember days, folks: the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the feast of St Lucy (Dec 13). In the Shifflerhaus, that means meatless meals plus discussion, each time someone wants meat, of how giving up meat winds up giving us lots of opportunities to remember (each time we want it and realize we can't have it) to be grateful for all of the blessings we've received—especially the blessings of the Christmas season which we're fast approaching!—and to use the gifts God gives us as best we can.
Even more than ember days, the O Antiphons tell me that we're flying toward the end of Advent. Those began yesterday, with O Sapientia (O Wisdom); today we sing O Adonai, O mighty Lord. I introduced Little Bear to the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel early this Advent, swapping it for one of the songs he'd been accustomed to hearing at bedtime, so by this point he sings the refrain with me and is enthusiastic about having me sing the verse for the day's Antiphon, over and over again all day long. He's also somehow developed a firm belief that the only place you can breath during the refrain is between the second "rejoice" and "Emmanuel." I'm certainly the one who taught him that we breathe before the "Emmanuel" instead of after, but when I'm feeding Kit, sometimes it's hard to hold enough air to skip the breath before "O Israel"!
Upon turning 6 months old this week, Kit promptly produced her first tooth! It completely took me by surprise—she hadn't been fussy at all, and the "chewing on everything" has been going on long enough that it's just normal. Long about bedtime that first night, she discovered the tooth for herself, biting down on the finger she was gumming. I'm wondering if there might be another lurking just beneath the surface, because her gnawing on hard things certainly hasn't slacked off since the tooth popped through; if anything, it's increased.
Speaking of Kit, she's still having some troubles, but they're seeming to be getting smaller and less frequent. We will see how the weekend goes, and what the pediatrician has to say at her 6 month appointment on Tuesday. I'm planning to stay off dairy for at least the 21 days that Jenna recommended, despite the fact that people have been bringing us delicious-smelling Christmas treats that I can't eat... Nope. Not complaining. Matt and Little Bear will certainly enjoy them all for me, and then I won't feel as badly for making mostly dairy-free treats this year.
I have not the brain this evening to make a separate post for this, so here's a super quick look at today's O Antiphon:
O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai, come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.
Lord, ruler, lawgiver. All mighty titles, presenting an image of strength and power... and then the antiphon throws in that paradox at the end: "come and redeem us with outstretched arms." How did Christ redeem us? With arms outstretched in submission, obedience, sacrifice. If we're acclaiming Him as our Lord, the one who leads us, then we are by extension agreeing to follow where He leads.
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
The only physical preparing-for-Christmas that I accomplished today was reorganizing the living room to make a spot for the tree; Matt and Little Bear are planning to go out tree-hunting tomorrow, because the low tomorrow is still above 0, but our temperatures are supposed to begin tumbling Sunday, bottoming out close to -30 by Christmas. Hey, that'll be a good reason to stay inside and do the baking later on, right?
Actually, I intentionally didn't bake anything today. Matt and I were talking about Advent and Christmas the other day, the way we celebrate them compared to the way we both grew up, and we discovered that while we've done a thorough job of keeping Advent as Advent, we haven't done very well at celebrating Christmas as Christmas. We both grew up with Christmas music and treats and a festive air permeating the days leading up to Christmas Day, and by making our Advents simple, we've lost that sense of festivity. And we miss it! So we're going to try to put it back where it belongs by intentionally celebrating the Christmas season: December 26 through Epiphany the Christmas lights will be on, carols playing, cookies and candies being made... Honestly, I'm not really sure what it'll look like yet; it's our first attempt. But it'll hopefully feel more Christmassy than past years!
Have you heard of the Christmas Rose Novena? It started on December 12, so obviously I'm quite late to be writing about it, but maybe think about filing it away for next year, if you're interested. It's a novena to St Therese of Liseux, and you say this prayer 12 times each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas:
Remember, O Gracious Little Rose Queen, your promise to spend your heaven in doing good on earth and even, if necessary, to come down to help those who ask your aid. If it is God's Holy Will, and my dispositions are pleasing to Him by their honesty and true desire for goodness, keep your promise to shower roses and send me some visible sign of your heavenly friendship for me and for those I love. In memory of the great interior enlightenment you received on a certain Christmas of your early life, ask God for a "Christmas Rose" for me in these my urgent needs, that I may experience an increase in faith, hope and confidence. (Meditate, here upon your petitions so that St. Therese can understand why your are asking her to assist you.) I desire to know and to accept real objective truth about life and death. Give me assurance that you understand and will remain my heavenly friend, so that one day we may be together with God. Keep your promise to give some answer! Amen.
St. Therese of Lisieux ~ Pray for us!
I am absolutely terrible at remembering to say the prayers before 11 o'clock at night, but I haven't missed a night yet! I've been meaning to try to connect with St Therese more for a while, so this was a good opportunity, and saying the prayers each night has given me a great deal of peace over my worries about Kit.
Hope your weekend is warmer than ours! As usual, you can find more quick takes at This Ain't The Lyceum.