Gaudete Sunday!

When to get the tree?  Every family seems to have their own approach, from always Thanksgiving weekend, to always Christmas Eve (still the custom in Germany), to whenever it fits into the schedule.  As our family grew, and grew up, and we looked for more ways to cultivate a spirit of waiting during Advent, we were blessed to stumble upon a new tradition practiced by some dear friends.  For the past several years, we have joined up with these same dear friends to go out together to get our trees on the third Sunday of Advent.  Gaudete Sunday is the day specially marked by the Church as a day of Joy.   We are almost there, though not yet.  We are close, so we rejoice, but yet we wait.  It’s a wonderful day, and I had wanted to find some way or ways to mark that JOY which frankly I can grab onto from the very first Sunday of Advent (and which then sometimes fizzles out and I stumble through the end of the season).  I wanted to find ways to make Advent more of a time of growing expectancy–and isn’t that what it is after all?  You don’t baptize the baby before it is born, and yet I had so often rushed headlong into all things Christmas right from the get-go.  Getting our tree on Gaudete Sunday has been a perfect tradition to add to our Advent practices, and to help us slow down during such a busy season.  It forces us all to wait, to practice “looking forward,” to learn patience.  When we get out the boxes of Christmas decorations (we do usually start slowly during the first weekend of Advent–usually because I never remember to put away my Advent things separately, so in finding them, we end up taking out box after box…), we have to keep putting aside boxes with lights and ornaments.  We have to wait.  It make us all stop and think.  It makes us all excited for all the days of Advent still to come, for all the feast days.  It was really hard to wait in those first few years, but now we actually all love it, and I often hear my kids tell others that we “always” get our tree on Gaudete Sunday (as in, oh, the last 4-5 years!).

Some years we have gone to a local tree farm to cut down our tree, and some years we have gone to a local farm stand to buy a pre-cut tree.  These trees are always so beautiful and long-lasting, and as an added bonus, whenever we go there, everyone in the family is allowed to chose one jar of the Amish-made jams, jellies, or preserves to receive on Christmas morning.  It’s always a bit of a contest to see who can make their jar last the longest into the new year.  Kind of a reflection of personalities right there…

And whenever possible, we try to change our tablecloth or table decoration for the season (rarely for the day unless I am super on top of things, my table is relatively clean, and my schedule is miraculously open, which pretty much means we change for spills or seasons…).  I have watched sales and slowly added to our collection of tablecloths, napkins, and runners so we have linens for the four main liturgical colors, as well as for some other specific holidays or feast days (so we have fall, spring, patriotic, and Christmas tablescloths, for example).  The pink tablecloth below was on sale after Easter one year.  We (try to remember to) use it for Gaudete Sunday, Laetare Sunday, and sometimes for Mother’s Day.  There were also pink roses on sale at the grocery store, and we always have our Italian Bambini manger (with yarn for marking our Advent sacrifices) and our German Nativity pyramid (a beloved Christmas gift one year in Berlin).  Lest you think I live a pinterest-worth life, know that this look lasted about five hours until an entire, large glass of milk was poured down the length and side of the table.  Back to purple…

And in the spirit of truth, honesty, and full disclosure, this is what my table looks like right now…  

About The Author


I am a homeschooling mom of six kids, married to a patient, supportive, and crazy smart husband, whom I met on the internet in the days of screaming modems. Raised on the east coast, I am happily raising my family in the midwest. I love to collect and share traditions, recipes, prayers, crafts, and activities for living out the Catholic Faith in my home and family.

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