Today was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception! Though not a Holy Day in our area because it fell on a Sunday this year and was "trumped" by the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord on Sunday, it traditionally is a Holy Day of Obligation and of course we wanted to celebrate by going to Mass. Kari has a great explanation of the meaning of this Feast (often confused) HERE!
It was so nice to be able to attend as a family and pray together. We all went out for breakfast afterwards to celebrate. Pancakes for Ava! Yum!
We discussed how we'd like to do something special to celebrate the day, but I found it difficult to find any ideas online for families with very small children.
We gave Ava a beautiful miraculous medal necklace on a real silver chain (just like Mommy's!) as she's been coveting mine as well as Shaun's for some time now.
Unfortunately, we had a longish appointment right in the middle of the day after naps that took up much of our time, so we decided that we'd have to continue the celebration into the rest of this week.
This evening we sang "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and lit our Advent wreath as we do each night (on a table that was "clean" only a couple of days ago and is now once again littered with papers, the last of the presents to wrap and other "projects". Dinners unfortunately have been enjoyed lately on the couch. Oh well!)
Then we decided to begin the first of our indoor Christmas decorations. As we have a family tradition of decorating the home slowly throughout Advent so as not to detract from the anticipation of this Holy Season of waiting, but rather add to it. We save our Christmas tree for Christmas eve and decorate it while watching Christmas movies and enjoying special treats. It makes it the crowning jewel of the season and we keep it up until the Baptism of the Lord. We hadn't done much to decorate the house yet, but we decided that we'd first adorn the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary with colorful Christmas lights ("Lights for Jesus' BIRTHDAY!" Ava would exclaim) while singing Hymns to Mary on her special day.
The girls watched with excitement as I decorated and sang "O Holy Mary" and "Immaculate Mary". Ava having heard the songs many times before, joined in as well.
Tomorrow we hope to bake gingerbread cookies as I heard this is a tradition to honor Mary.
I read about it HERE:
"The special treat for this feast is Moravian Spritz or gingerbread cookies, loaded with fine, aromatic spices. These are mixed on the vigil, December 7. They are baked on this day because they remind us of the passage in the Book of Sirach (formerly Ecclesiasticus), 24:20-21 that describes Mary smelling like spices:
I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh; and I perfumed my dwelling as store, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odor is as the purest balm.
These cookies fill the air with spicy odors, like the quoted passage speaks of Mary."
Unfortunately I'd read about it a little too late to prepare well, but this is the time "traditions" are being formed in our home and I like that we can next year read "The Gingerbread Man", the night before, follow the recipe on the back of the book that I got for Ava last year and while baking and making cookies talk about how Mary's soul was so pleasing to God, as reflected in this passage. As the girls get older it will be a great, tangible tradition to celebrate this special feast day and falls at a perfect time of the year for making Gingerbread!
I had already purchased some great Christmas stamps for making cookies for the girls and will give them to them tomorrow. We hit bedtime before we were able to finish and saying the rosary and decorating Mary's image seemed more important. Ava trotted off to bed looking at the lights and saying "I love it!" and "Happy Feast Day, Mary! Happy Birthday (close enough for a two year old)!"
Some friends offered other great suggestions such as baking cookies for expectant mothers I know and talking to the girls about how they have babies inside just like St. Anne did with Mary! This would be such a nice way to deliver our gingerbread cookies to others during this season of giving.
Another friend suggested making "ornaments" with an image of Mary on them to add to our tree. This is a great idea as we can make a new one each year and hang it around the images that we've just garlanded!
What other ideas do you have for making this Solemnity more special? Any particular suggestions for those with very small children? Please share!
I hope to post pics of our cookies!