O Come Let Us Adore Him~ Our Advent Traditions
For over a decade now, we have maintained the same Advent tradition. If you know our family at all, you know how huge this is. While I love traditions, my husband and I are both spontaneous, reactive types and so we don’t always keep up with traditions.
But this one? It’s our favorite. The reason it is our favorite is that each year, our kid’s eyes light up when they remember that it is time to read The Advent Book. Each night, we open a new door. Behind each door is a short passage of scripture that tells the story of the birth of Jesus. By the time Christmas day rolls around, my kids have a huge portion of scripture memorized. It is delightful!
If “Advent” isn’t a part of your Christmas tradition, this might not make any sense to you. Simply put Advent is a time when the arrival of Christ is celebrated. Many churches celebrate the season of Advent on the four Sundays prior to Christmas day. A candle is lit each Sunday, scripture is read focusing on the themes of hope, love, peace and joy and a prayer is prayed. Advent celebrations are an excellent teaching opportunity to help children understand the true meaning of Christmas.
This year, I decided to add a new tradition to the Advent season. I put together a simplistic advent calendar made out of little envelopes. Inside each envelope is some kind of activity, craft or service project for the kids to do throughout the month of December. We have several activities that we enjoy doing around Christmas time and so I decided to incorporate them into the Advent calendar- things like searching for our Christmas tree, watching Christmas movies, reading books with a cup of hot chocolate, making Christmas cookies, and decorating. My kids enjoy making crafts, so we are working on a book page paper chain to hang on the tree and later in the month, they will be making borax snowflakes and an adorable melted snowmen craft. Finding projects that the 11 year old AND the 19 month old can both enjoy is a bit challenging. We are all pleased with the “Mistletoes” painting we made…
The other part of the Advent calendar that I am really excited about is service projects. We do all of these things every year, but I am hopeful that being intentional about what we do will help the kids to remember our priorities. We will be baking cookies to deliver to our neighbors. We will pray for the kids that will get our Operation Christmas Child boxes. We will shop for gifts for a local child who doesn’t have the same privileges that my kids do. And we will pick out a suitcase for a child who has to travel between different homes.
This is quickly becoming another favorite tradition!
One of the things that I have learned in my decade plus of parenting is that flexibility is important- especially when it comes to trying something new. And sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. I have learned to appreciate what other families do, but to be okay when the same things don’t work for my family.
And so, I share these ideas, because maybe you are like me. You want to have traditions that are meaningful, but you don’t have the time at this very busy season to do ALL the things. The truth is you are probably already doing many things that are special to your kids- and maybe you don’t even know it.
We haven’t decorated our tree yet (on the calendar for today- shh!!), but I know that it is one of my daughter’s favorite things. She loves unwrapping the ornaments. We have a tradition of buying Christmas ornaments when we are on trips or at significant places. The decorating of the tree becomes a sweet time of reminiscing about all of the wonderful places we have been and the memories we have made.
When I put together the Advent calendar for this year, I knew that I wanted to keep it simple. I used a gorgeous mirror that my husband and I purchased for our 10 year anniversary. But as we started to take the envelopes off, I had the idea of hanging the Christmas cards that we receive in the empty spaces. The result is beautiful and I love it!
This is what I love about traditions- the way they morph into something even more beautiful then originally intended.
If you have traditions that you love, would you consider sharing them in the comments? And if you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the possibilities, could I encourage you today? Let your traditions be a work in progress. Don’t expect perfection, but when you find that thing that causes your children’s eyes to light up, stick with it! Even if it is something as simple as reading a book. Or hanging little envelopes.
Whatever you do, may your celebrations be filled with joy! May you be overwhelmed with God’s goodness in his promise to be Immanuel- God with us!