Milwaukee Catholic Mamas

Books can help make this a special Advent, even if many events are canceled because of the pandemic. (Submitted photo)

Is there a more perfect opportunity than Advent to build the culture of your domestic church? (Spoiler alert – there is not.) It doesn’t matter if your kids are crawling or driving — they’re excited for some aspect of Christmas. Their imaginations are captured by the anticipation of the season, stimulating their appetites for truth, goodness and beauty.

Whatever our extracurricular, community-based holiday traditions are, isn’t it the case that most of us cherish most the memories of those traditions we developed at home within our families? Whether it’s lighting the Advent wreath or waking up to full stockings on St. Nicholas’ feast day, the rituals we create for our children in this season stick with them.

This year more than ever, when it comes to incorporating Advent customs and traditions that illustrate the beauty of the Incarnation for our children, there’s no place like home for the holidays. So many of our beloved traditions are, by necessity, canceled due to the pandemic. Let’s use this time to really focus on developing our family’s collective devotion to the baby in the manger — the light to the people who walk in darkness.

Immaculate Conception Craft

Intricate theological concepts like the Immaculate Conception of Mary are hard enough for adults to process; so it’s an especially daunting topic to tackle with small kids. Lisa LaFond, a kindergarten teacher at St. Dominic Parish School in Brookfield, has found a visual, tactile and memorable way for her students to explore the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Drawn from the curriculum “Catholic Icing Presents Catholic ABC’s (The Book): A Hands-On Preschool Curriculum,” this craft is a perennial favorite among LaFond’s students. Using a coloring page within the curriculum that depicts baby Mary safe in the womb of St. Anne, LaFond shares the story of how Mary, unlike us, was born completely free from sin.

“I add gold glitter on the circle around Mary when they are done coloring to ‘highlight’ her beauty, the fact that she is so special and that she is free from Original Sin,” said LaFond.

To purchase “Catholic Icing Presents Catholic ABC’s (The Book): A Hands-On Preschool Curriculum” — or to access tons of free resources that will help children learn about Jesus, Mary, the Sacraments and more — visit

Advent books available at the Salzmann Library

The Salzmann Library at the Saint Francis de Sales Seminary has a great selection of books and media to facilitate a family’s journey through Advent — and they are currently offering curbside pickup for a safe, easy way to check out materials. Here are a few titles that we recommend.

Talking Eagle and the Lady of Roses: The Story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe by Amy Cordova and Eugene Gollogly

A vividly illustrated book that tells the story of Juan Diego, this is perfect reading for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12).

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe by Pat Mora

A grandmother explains to her young granddaughter the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As the patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a crucial intercessor for us at this moment in history.

The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspiration Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy by Lori Walburg

A stranger comes to town and teaches the local children about the true meaning of Christmas. Be sure to have a candy cane on hand when you read this one.

The Legend of St. Nicholas by Anselm Grun

This beautiful book tells the story of St. Nicholas and the traditions surrounding his life.

Saints-in-Waiting by Ethel Marbach

Learn about individuals from the Old and New Testament who prepared the way for Christ’s incarnation. This title is particularly good for older children.