In spirit, that's fine. In practice...
Well, let's look at what Bishop Wester of Utah has told his flock:
As we renew our sense of the liturgical celebration of time, I encourage you to remain faithful to the celebration of the four weeks of Advent. As I mentioned earlier, it is so easy to be consumed by the hype of the “holiday season:” to decorate our churches and houses for Christmas, to spend more time shopping than in prayer, and to host Christmas parties before the season has arrived. I know it is an enormous challenge to remain faithful to the Advent season when we are surrounded by a society which, while claiming to be Christian, does not take the time to reflect and prepare as the church calls us to do. [...]Bishop Wester, to whom I give all due respect, of course, is, here, continuing a theme I've seen crop up just about every year in the Catholic blogosphere, as the Advent Purists insist that Christmas trees, Christmas cookie baking, decking the halls (or singing about it) Christmas shopping, writing and sending Christmas cards, attending mandatory office "Holiday" parties one's absence from which will be noted with grave disapproval, or otherwise engaging in any Christmas-related activities prior to just before midnight on December 24 amounts to violating the proper liturgical season, which is Advent.
Here are some particular examples of what this will entail. Schools should not decorate for Christmas, but can decorate with simple wreaths and greenery. They might celebrate “Gaudete parties” before departing for Christmas break. I encourage each home to display and bless an Advent wreath where the family can gather for prayer either in the morning, at dinner, or some other practical time. I urge you to hold-off on displaying a decorated Christmas tree until the season of Christmas begins. You may want to incorporate a Jesse Tree in your family’s observance of the season.
Yet somehow most people (and I excuse Bishop Wester from this, as he is a bishop and thus not a married person with children who has to think about these things) still expect there to be a decorated tree, wrapped presents below that tree, jars and tins full of Christmas cookies, homemade fudge, candy canes and other goodies, halls decked with holly and lights and a fully-staffed Nativity scene on the premises, filled stockings, softly-wafting Christmas tunes, and a delicious Christmas dinner served on Christmas dishes on a table festooned with red and green or silver and gold or whatever the family's taste might be--on Christmas Day.
So sometime between Midnight Mass and the earliest children's awakening the next day (somewhere between four and six a.m., if the child is younger than ten), someone is supposed to accomplish all or the vast majority of that, while retaining her good temper, sanity, and the cheerful gladness proper to the joyous day.
Now look, I'm not saying that our culture isn't seriously distorted, in that it thinks of "Christmas" primarily as a shopping season beginning sometime in late August and ending when all the returns are over in January. Buying into that culture is not a recipe for a truly Catholic understanding of Advent, and its focus not only on our recollection of the great mystery and gift of the Incarnation, but also on Christ's Second Coming, which we look for in joy and hope.
But at the same time, Advent is a time of preparation, and some of that preparation can indeed include, at least in my way of looking at things, some of the preparations we are making so that we can truly rejoice on Christmas Day--and by "we" I'm including all the moms out there, who deserve to spend a joyful, peaceful, quiet and relaxing Christmas feast as much as everybody else does.
If Mom is one of those kind of super-organized, super-crafty, superwomen who bought and wrapped all of this year's gifts during last year's post-Christmas sales, and who is ready to whisk a fully decorated and lighted Christmas tree and a trunkful of other ready-to-go merriment and cheer out of some spacious yet hidden and inaccessible-to-small-hands closet while the children are still drinking their after-Midnight-Mass, before-bed hot cocoa, that's terrific--more power to her, and may her tribe increase.
Us mere mortal mothers, though, face with dread the thought of trying to do everything, or even nearly everything, in that quiet lull between Midnight Mass and Christmas morning. We know our own weaknesses, lack of organizational abilities, propensity to stress--and we know these things would not vanish but would instead significantly increase if we were constantly pressured to keep our Advent homes bare of any suggestion that the Christmas feast and festivities would soon be upon us. We would spend Christmas day not relaxing and rejoicing, but exhausted and tearful as our last-minute, eleventh hour attempts to create a Christmas scene in our homes betrayed our own shortcomings in one giant disappointment after another. We would drag ourselves through the First Day of Christmas until we could finally wash the Christmas dinner dishes, and would then collapse into bed before the children were at all ready to go to bed themselves.
I realize that lots of the Advent Purists would argue that they're not calling for Mom to do nothing to prepare for Christmas beforehand. But once you agree that she ought to do some things, aren't we, then, only arguing about degrees and details? And don't those things usually come down to what works for one's family?
I agree that we should let the focus, these next weeks, be on Advent--which itself points to the coming of Christ. But I also think we should try to keep Mom in Christmas--by not making her feel either guilty for doing too much beforehand, or stressed about not doing enough; and, perhaps more importantly, by trusting her to make the right decisions about these things for her little domestic church.