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In Advent and Christmas, our ‘faith really comes into focus,’ says Fox News’ Rachel Campos-Duffy

The season of Advent, says Rachel Campos-Duffy of Fox News, is a critical time of preparation for the joy and gifts that Christmas brings each year.

In her bestselling book “All American Christmas” of last year, which is filled with seasonal essays, remembrances, traditions, playlists, recipes, and much more from many Fox News personalities and staff, she and her husband Sean Duffy shared that “Christmas is truly about God’s greatest gift: His son.” 

It’s important to remember it’s “a truly religious holiday,” she also said.

The book contains the Duffys’ accounts of their own Christmases — both growing up and with their own family now (they have nine children). 

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Recently, for a discussion of cherished Christmas traditions during the Advent season, the Duffys hosted Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo on their podcast, “From the Kitchen Table.”

Campos-Duffy noted that when she goes shopping for gifts for family and friends, “I’m actually buying for Christmas, not for winter.”

So if shop owners or others wish her “happy holidays” or “happy winter,” they may not be recognizing “why I’m shopping,” she said — and she may not return there to shop again. 

She mentioned the recent feast of Saint Nicholas Day (Dec. 5) and that she’s always celebrated it at home with her family, ever since her children were “little tiny babies.”

The tradition is for children to leave out their shoes on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day — in the hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins in them.

“We put their shoes out by the altar on the 5th of December — and then, you know, right after prayer time, we light our candles [every night] and we sing, ‘Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.’”

On social media, she said, she’s been posting about her Christmas traditions “to remind people of what we do” and why they do it.

And in regard to Christmas decorations at home, she noted, “I remember as a kid, nobody had their house undecorated … and now it’s like every other house might not be decorated for Christmas.”

Arroyo commented that so many Americans today instead decorate for Halloween — with spider webs and so much more.

Yet the Christmas season, he said, deserves plenty of joyful notice and celebration — and people shouldn’t hide their faith or their reasons for celebrating it.

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“It’s part of the reason I did this ‘Christmas Merry & Bright’ album,” he said. 

“I wanted to remind people what the season was about, and what these great songs that we take for granted were about.”

He encouraged caroling in neighborhoods as just one of the many other ways to express the true spirit of the season toward others.

In an excerpt from her book’s “Joy of Faith” section, Campos-Duffy — who is of Spanish and Mexican descent — shared with readers the importance of Advent and of the Nativity scene in her family as a child. 

And as she pointed out about the family life she’s created with her husband — a former representative from Wisconsin who grew up in the northern part of the Badger State — “Marriage, especially interracial marriage, is another way Christmas traditions evolve and meld into something new and beautiful. For us, that meant bringing Irish and Spanish/Mexican Christmas and Catholic traditions together.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy in “All American Christmas”: Catholic traditions formed my earliest memories of Christmas and deeply shaped my family’s practices for the holiday. 

In my childhood home, Christmas was a truly religious holiday, and we took very seriously the liturgical season of Advent. 

The four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas were a time when many parts of our faith really came into focus as we prepared for the birth of our Savior.

Like many families, we had an Advent wreath and candles. 

Now that we are parents ourselves, we are very intentional about Advent rituals, since it is the best way to remind our children of the religious meaning of Christmas.

Every evening during Advent, our kids really love turning off all the lights in the house and watching the flickering candles of our Advent wreath. 

Our nightly prayers involve not just lighting the candle and praying but also singing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

Since none of us is a great singer, Sean has his favorite version, by Enya, ready on iTunes for our nightly family ritual.

I also take time at the start of Advent to set our family altar for the Advent season with the kids, placing a statue of St. Nicholas and three boxes representing the gifts that the Magi bring the baby Jesus. 

I also place a basket with a baby Jesus doll and a jar of hay next to it.

Throughout the season, we encourage our children to perform good deeds, and with each good deed, they place a piece of hay under the baby Jesus. The goal is to do so many good deeds that you prepare a soft bed for the baby Jesus in time for Christmas. 

But of course, with each good deed, we also prepare our hearts.

In Hispanic culture, the Nativity scene plays a central and important role in decorating one’s home for Christmas. When I was growing up, my mother didn’t just put up the normal manger scene with the Holy Family and the Three Kings. She built the whole town of Bethlehem for us, complete with a river, mountains, the cave where the angels greeted the shepherds, and even Herod’s castle.

As a military family, we traveled extensively, and wherever we went in the world — Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East — my mom would make a point of purchasing something for our family’s Nativity scene. 

As a result, our Nativity scene had an international flavor and it didn’t necessarily stick to the same time period. On the sawdust path that led to the manger, you might find a pilgrim, an African drummer, or even Tom from “Tom and Jerry.” 

My mom would explain that Jesus was for all people and for all ages.

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It was so exciting as a child to help my mom and dad set up the Nativity scene. 

There were rocks, moss, twinkling lights and so many beautiful angels. 

We learned so much about the story of Christmas as we unwrapped the figurines and many fragile components of this little work of art. 

Excerpted from All American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. To purchase a copy, click here

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

 

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