The leaves have fallen, the wind is cold, and despite my best efforts to “slow down”, time seems to just fly by and Advent is upon us. While the world goes barreling to the end of a calendar year, the Christian year is just beginning. Advent marks the first season in the Christian year. It is a beautiful opportunity to quiet the hurry, find the Holy, and share the true gift of Christmas with our children.
As you plan your Advent activities, first take a moment to think about how you want your Advent time to look. You’ll want to consider how much space you have, if you enjoy and want to do crafts each day, the ages of your children, and if you would like to do a daily Advent or only observe on the four Sundays. For young ones (10 and under), a visual tracking of time is helpful, therefore in our family we choose to do a daily observance using an Advent Spiral and readings. An Advent Spiral is commonly made of wood and uses 25 candles to light the days to Christmas, often including "wood -carved" figures of Mary, Joseph and a donkey that “travel” along the way. Although I did eventually invest in a lovely hardwood set, in the beginning our spirals were made using play dough or just tea lights arranged on a table top. Our figures were all handmade using simple paints and wooden peg dolls for under $10. And we still use them! The imperfect made perfect with love.
While the candles are burning, we turn to our Advent reading. There are many lovely Advent books available and honestly, we never pick just one. An absolute children’s favorite is Advent Storybook. It shares Biblical truths as a little bear travels to find the star. In order to focus on Jesus and more direct scripture, I love bringing in the Jesse Tree tradition.
A Jesse Tree follows the lineage of Christ and tells the Gospel story through simple ornaments. Free printables for these ornaments are available online or you can make your own with your children. The Jesus Storybook Bible is one we use often in our children's church program, and they recently released a free set of Jesse Tree printables for Advent. Regardless of which Advent books we pick, I always include a daily reading from Luke. There are 24 chapters, so a perfect match for each day of December up until Christmas. Sometimes this reading is at a different time of the day than our Advent activities. This year, I'm so excited to be adding Hallelujah by Cindy Rollins to our Advent reading list. It comes highly recommended by many friends, so make sure to ask me in December how it’s going! I can’t think of anything that brings me more joy than sharing the good news and love of our God and Saviour with my children.
Our Advent celebrations are simple. They keep Jesus at the heart and toss out all “expectations” that Pinterest and other media influences may have clogged our minds with. We can quickly get lost in the idea that Advent must look a certain way. Yet, materials can be simple and inexpensive. Readings and crafts might not be completed each day; in fact, I can pretty much guarantee you they won’t. Sometimes we have missed days. Last year we were missing a piece of our lovely Advent spiral. And this might be the first year we get all of our Jesse Tree ornaments actually ON the tree. That’s ok! They won’t remember that! They’ll remember the warmth of the candles, the lap that held them, the feeling of our hearts “turning in” and slowing down as Mary and Joseph neared the end of their journey and Christmas drew closer. Most importantly, they will see us watching, listening, waiting for our Lord. Pointing them to Him is the greatest gift we could ever share with them. I pray your family is united this Advent season, as we welcome the stillness and await his coming, together.
Published on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 @ 5:04 AM CDT