As we approach November, I start getting excited and planning our advent!
I could actually do without Christmas day, which I cannot figure out how to celebrate as I wish we could. Commercialism and Santa have taken over, and usually we are not in our home, so we go along with the traditions of the home we are visiting. At best, I have crammed in the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. I tired of this struggle years ago, and now focus on advent.
Advent is wonderful!!! It is the anticipation and preparing of our hearts for the coming of our Lord! There are many different traditions that families do to teach their children and enjoy these sweet weeks together.
In our family, in addition to lots of baking and delivering to friends and neighbors, we do several devotional type activities. Here are some ideas that we have done or do every year......
*We have a smaller Christmas tree where we hang our Adornaments. These are ornaments that each tell of a name of Jesus. We read and discuss one a day and then hang it on our tree.
*Many years, I put up our nativity spread out throughout the house. The barn and the animals are in place, and then all the characters are in different locations throughout our home so that they can travel to Bethlehem.
*Sunday nights are guarded family dinner nights where I make a nice meal and we light the advent wreath, sing songs, and read a devotion including scripture.
*We have a kit, I believe, is called "What God Wants for Christmas." It has seven little gifts that you open each day for a week. Each has a person in the nativity scene and a devotion to read. The last just has a mirror in it. This last day has the gospel message and the point that God wants You!
*We haven't actually done this yet, but I soooo want to. Many of the families we know read an advent book each night. There are three books in the series, so you don't read the same story each year. They are called Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, Tabitha's Travels by Arnold Ytreeide. (I just read that he has an Easter book coming out!)
*We have a manger looking basket that is about 2 1/2 feet long and a foot wide. It isn't very deep at all. We have, in the past, put it out in a prominent place. Then, as children are kind to one another, they are allowed to add a little bit of hay. We discuss throughout the season how as we love one another (and get hay), we are preparing not only our hearts, but Jesus' bed! Then, on Christmas Eve, at our birthday party for Jesus (more on that later), the kids open a present. This present is to them from God and is a baby doll which we call Jesus for the night and lay in the manger. (Don't worry, I haven't worded this well here, but in no way, is it ever presented that we had anything to do with God's grace towards us.)
*On Christmas Eve, we have a birthday party for Jesus! At this time we rejoice, sing songs, eat good food, and of course have a birthday cake! A lot of times, we pass out candy canes and tell the story of the candy cane.
*I also try to attend church on Christmas Eve. I grew up doing this and cry every single time I sing Silent Night while holding a candle in the dark. This doesn't get to happen every year, but it is one of my favorite times.
There are many more wonderful things to do to help teach your children and anticipate Jesus's birth. What does your family do?