Friday, December 13, 2013

What do Catholic Moms really want for Christmas?

Donna-Marie (in dress on right)
with her mother
and 4 of her 7 siblings
Moms are always thinking of others—not so much themselves. After all, that need to nurture and to give is pretty much innate. Once a woman becomes pregnant, she no longer thinks only for herself or for her husband. She now has a little life inside of her, which totally depends on her for survival. Or, the mom opening her heart to a child through adoption becomes totally focused on the care of another. And, of course, in time, the expectant mother gives birth and is compelled to immediately focus on her baby’s needs and later on her growing children.
         I have asked more than fifty Catholic moms what is at the very top of their Christmas wish list this year. You might be surprised to find out what they really want.
     Yes, it’s true that deep down we all want peace on earth and goodwill towards men. But, there are a few tangible things that would be nice for moms too. Yet, by and large, many Catholic moms are expressing that they would love to receive a gift of time.
     Here are some of the gifts that Catholic moms are wishing for (in no particular order). Keep in mind that I asked the moms to dream big!

A mother’s ring
A retreat (several hoped for this)
Gift cards for groceries (this mom is on maternity leave)
Peace in my home
Gift cards (many want this)
Catholic and Christian books
Gift cards to craft stores
That my children will always know how much I desired each and every one of them and how much I love them
Spa day or massage
A new pair of boots
Disneyland tickets
A shopping spree
The kitchen painted
Something to benefit the WHOLE family
New laptop
A maid
A massage (her shoulders hurt from caring for her baby)
A chef
New clothes
A day and night off from caring for the kids
Diaper bag
Catholic stationary
A nap (almost every mom wants this!)
Night away with my husband (many moms long for this)
Meals delivered
Gift card for make up
Weekend away with husband
Money (many wished for this for reasons to better their homeschooling environment or to keep their home safer or warmer)
Infinity scarf
Simple earrings
Money for homeschooling projects
Someone to watch the kids so I can take a nap or clean (many wish for this)
Date night with husband (very popular wish!)
Time to clean
A recording of Handel’s Messiah
A Mani Pedi
A prenatal massage
Winter boots
Time to pray at church
The whole world to remember the reason for the season
Good health
A bigger car
A tummy tuck (just kidding, but wishing!)
New cardigan sweater to stay warm when I nurse my baby
Kitchen aid mixer
Medical bills paid
IPod touch
Bedroom set
Diamond earrings
Robot floor cleaner
Dress boots
Sleep (many moms wished for this!)
Kids that behave
Reconciliation in relationships in my family
Our Eucharistic Lord to reign in the hearts of all men
Peace and love of God in my family
New carpet
New windows
Warmer home
Cocktail ring
Soda stream
A home altar
A new outfit
A mom’s retreat (many wished for this)
To get my wedding ring fixed
To be grateful for whatever I receive
An indoor gym for the kids
A weekend alone to purge my house
Money or supplies to build a chapel/library
The laundry to be done
A clean house (almost every Mom wants this!)
A clean van
A kitchen Aid standing mixer
A day off
Hobby supplies
Meaningful time to spend with my family

     Many moms hope for the gift of time--time to be with their family, time to keep the house in order or to spend alone with their husband. Moms want a little respite. They are tired and usually more or less worn out trying to do all that is required of them.
     Most of us, more often than not feel pretty much out of time. We are typically rushing from one activity to another trying to get our “to-do” lists checked off and it might seem impossible to give away any of our time. But, perhaps time would be the most meaningful gift to “part with” this year. It might just well be a beautiful surprise to the recipient as well as a genuine blessing for us too when we give of ourselves.
     Consider how you might gift someone with your time. Perhaps you can write them a card (or even wrap a gift box) with a gift of time inside.   
     For instance:
     “I’d love to give you 3 hours of babysitting so you can go out and get a Mani Pedi” (and stick a gift certificate to a salon in the card).
     Or, “I’d love to give you 3 hours of babysitting so you can go out to the church and spend some alone time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."
     Or, “I’d love to give you a home cooked meal so you can focus on watching a movie or playing a game with your family instead of cooking one night.” You can cook the meal at their home or cook it at your house and deliver it. This is a nice gift for a family with a little baby or one who might be dealing with some health challenges.
     Or, “I’d love to gift you with a night away with your husband (or a “night in” which won’t cost them anything) and I’ll watch the kids at my house.”
     Or, “I’d love to give you a gift of dinner out with your husband and I’ll watch the kids.” And, place a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant inside the card or gift box.
     Or, "I'd love to gift you with my help cleaning the house (or a room, or the refrigerator, the car, etc.) and watching the kids too so you can take a nap." This is a wonderful gift for a new mother.
     These are just simple ideas. But the sky is the limit. Take some time to think of creative gifts that will include your gift of time.
     Have fun pondering ideas and be blessed!

Advent blessings to you and yours,

Donna- Marie

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Keeping the season of Advent holy in our domestic churches

It's that wonderful and holy time of year that our Church calls "Advent." We might be planning (or at least hoping) to observe this Advent season in a holier way than we have in the past but aren't quite sure how to accomplish it. After all, there's that crazy time factor to deal with - or shall I say, the "lack thereof"? Advent seems to speed by and we might end up lamenting later on that we missed out on what we had hoped to do.

Then there's the advertising frenzy we are forced to contend with, which blares at us at every turn. Even when we are careful, our impressionable kids are exposed to all the tricks and distractions from the secular media. We want to be careful not to allow them to get caught up in the hype or get distracted ourselves.

So, during Advent, I think we really need to make our home "another Nazareth" as Mother Teresa once told me. I'd like to share five tips with you which will hopefully help to keep Advent holy in our domestic churches. In order to carry out these tips we have to establish at least a little bit of structure into our days or that holiness we are talking about just might not happen.

Here are the five Advent tips. You can simply incorporate one of them into your family's life or try them all.

1) Create a holy home. Now, that's easy, right? Well, not exactly, but with using a few simple tangible items, our homes become more like a little church (a domestic church!) rather than just blending into everything else in society. I suggest using an Advent wreath and light the candles each night at dinner. Say a prayer or two after you say your Grace Before Meals. Some families use a Jesse Tree. Either of these two Advent traditions are wonderful (or both). Place sacred and holy images and art around the household. These holy reminders and sacramentals help the family to look to heavenly things rather than the secular world.

2) Dedicate time for prayer. If we don't pencil in our Creator to our "to-do" list, our conversation with Him might not happen. I recommend that we pray first thing in the morning. Get your day started off right. Say a simple prayer together as a family at the breakfast table. No matter how busy you are, make it happen.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your love for us. Please bring our family close to You today. Help us to see You in others and serve You in them. Amen." Or, whatever you'd like to say.

Later, at night, pray again while around the dinner table And, of course, all throughout the day you'll be lifting your hearts heavenward. You will be creating an essential prayer habit. Help your family to establish a very good prayer habit.

3) Choose a Saint. Get acquainted with a saint and read about their life at the dinner table. This need not be a complicated task. It's actually quite easy. Use a book you have in your family library or get some information from a good online Catholic source. Read even just a couple of lines or a paragraph to the family at dinner whenever you can. Offer them a question about the saint to ponder (and to see if they were listening!). And then, invoke the saint together as a family all throughout Advent. With this simple addition to your Advent tradition, your family will be learning about a saint as well, you will be helping them to focus on heavenly things instead of the advertising frenzy and the lack of good values of the secular culture (which we are trying to keep outside the doors of our domestic church).

4) Establish a "NO NOISE" time (and/or zone). Once or twice a week (or even everyday if possible) set a timer for ten minutes. Explain to the kids that they are to be very quiet during that short period of time. You can give the older ones a suggested line of Scripture or information about the saint you are learning about. They are to meditate for ten minutes on something holy (the line from Scripture, the saint, the season of Advent, an idea to do to help someone, etc., etc). There should be no grumbling or complaining about this. We can all spare ten minutes, can't we?

You will be assisting your family to carve out the essential time for silence in their lives. We all need quiet time to be able to listen to God. How can we possibly hear Him whispering to our hearts and souls when there is too much noise around us and if we are so preoccupied with everything else? Encouraging the family to listen for God will certainly prove to be very beneficial as they grow in holiness and are exposed to all kinds of experiences and distractions from the secular world. Carving out a quiet time is a simple habit to learn which can be carried throughout life.

5) Strive to live in the present moments of your life. Surrender your heart to God this Advent season. Accept what God gives you each day. You might try to take some extra time out to pray and suddenly the kids aren't cooperating or the neighbor is ringing the doorbell needing your help, or you're sick, or facing some sort of challenge, etc., etc. God might be asking you to put aside your preconceptions of what your prayer should be at that moment, and further, He might want you to allow Him to show you another way to pray--actively--giving your heart to those He puts in your midst (without complaining). Or, He might be asking you to offer your sickness and sufferings to Him with love, asking that He transform them into graces to help you and your family. So, whatever it is, try hard to accept Our Lord's Advent "gifts" for you and answer Him with a loving "Yes!"

Live in the moment this Advent and with God's grace and your faithfulness, your life will become a beautiful prayer to God!

Happy Advent!

God bless!


PS I will come back soon with a link for you to listen to the radio show I did today on Diocese Live with Jennifer and Leo in which I spoke about all of this. I'll also be doing a radio show with Dr. Matthew Bunson talking about my book, Catholic Mom's Cafe. It will air on January 25, 2014.

As well, you can view an EWTN Bookmark episode about Catholic Mom's Cafe here:

Speaking of Catholic Mom's Cafe. I am giving out copies of it! Send me an email to with "Catholic Mom's Cafe contest" in the subject line and tell me why you want to win this book. I'll be giving out five copies this week!

Here's a description of Catholic Mom's Cafe:

Motherhood is a miraculous vocation - sometimes the miracle is just making it through the day!
Let's face it: being a mom is not for the faint of heart. Too often we just hit the ground running without giving our faith a second thought. This collection of quick "mini-retreats for moms" can change all that.
Consider these your spiritual "daily vitamins" that will energize you and help you find the faith, hope, and love you'll need to be the mom God wants you to be - today and every day.
  • Ponder quotes from the Bible and other spiritual readings
  • Offer yourself to the Lord through an easy activity or idea
  • Pray suggested prayers that match the daily theme
  • Savor a little "sound bite" to carry throughout the day
Author, speaker, and EWTN host Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle knows what it's like to be a busy mother who has to carve time out of her day for the Lord or it just won't happen. With five kids of her own, she developed this book to fit into a mom's lifestyle.