Obviously, the operation of that word in this case is not “kill it!” but instead, “making it happen.” Last week, I kicked off Advent with a bang of a post (I hope) in which I shared why we celebrate Advent. Today I’d like to share a few things we do in our house to help our Advent celebration succeed in preparing our hearts for worship on Christmas Day.
I’d like to say, first, that if you’re picturing us all getting up early in the morning for some elaborate worship ceremony, that’s not the way it goes. Sorry to disappoint. ; ) On the other hand, if you do, that’s great.
My main goal for Christmas morning is simply to love God, most. More than the presents, more than the Christmas carols, more than the family time and the Christmas ham… my goal is that we set our heart’s affections on the greatest gift of all more than anything else.
I’m not going to deny that our attention is on the presents when we’re doing presents and on our meal when we’re eating our meal. So HOW EXACTLY does one go about “keeping our affections on Christ” when our attention is on the shiny wrapping paper? I do have a few simple things we do every year to help keep our hears in the right place.
A Classic Housewife Advent
- Weekly Scripture Readings/Advent Candle – We’ve never actually purchased an Advent candle wreath, though someday I would like to. Each year we set up a different collection of candles and decorations to use, and each year I find a set of Advent readings online (there are many different passages you can use for each candle, so readings vary from one to the next.) The act of reading about Christ’s birth for weeks before Christmas Day reminds us all that even as we watch presents pile up under the tree, Jesus is why we’re celebrating.
- Adornaments – I’m not sure these are still available for sale anywhere, but we picked them up years ago and we use them every year. For 12 days before Christmas we take one ornament, read the passage inside and hang it on the tree. Each ornament displays a different attribute of Jesus – he is our shepherd, the vine, the living water. I love these for that reason. Not only does it help us focus on Jesus as the reason for the season, but they also help us to see Jesus for all that He is. If you can’t find these anywhere, it would be really easy to make your own set of ornaments with Jesus’ attributes for this purpose.
- Daily Activities/Advent Calendar – This year I chose to keep it really simple. Most days are filled with reading stories and watching movies that are about Christmas and remind us (again and again) to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day – even if loosely. Other days are spent making crafts, activities and service projects, with which we can use a simple scripture or passage to connect with the Advent season. For example, driving around and looking at Christmas lights is a favorite holiday activity. We can either do that mindlessly, or we can let it remind us that Jesus is the light, and that we’re supposed to let his light shine through us also. Simple things like this make for great family memories, memories about making the most of Christmas.
In addition to these 3 things, our Christmas decor echoes our Advent reflections. You will find our meager collection full to the brim with angels, shepherds, nativity scenes, crosses and more. Through these things, and the books and movies, conversations often begin and teaching moments flicker through the minds of my little ones. Ever alert for once such moment, simple questions, oft repeated and rephrased, are the best tools for shaping our children’s attitudes toward the holiday season. Through these brief discussions you catch glimpses of the way their little hearts and minds work. You can answer their wonderings and fill in the blanks and spaces. You can redirect their joy and giddiness at the appearance of a new shiny present under that tree with a simple, “I know! And we’ll open it on Christmas morning when we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus!” (or any such phrase.)
In short it is not any one of these things alone that creates an Advent celebration in our home but it is all these things together, working in tandem, to wire an immovable joy to our very bones.
Jesus is born! The Savior Has Come!
My challenge to you, my friends, is to spend this week making meaningful Christmas memories with your children. If you do not already have an Advent calendar, you can still create a schedule for the remaining days of the season. Be careful not to overplan. Indeed, the Advent celebrations can easily become the focus. Use it, instead, as a tool to guide your family in worship and joy over the next 18 days to the manger destination on Christmas morning, at the feet of the Savior babe. God bless!
For more information on our family traditions above, browse these previous Advent posts:
- Our Advent Calendar, Advent Wreath, Traveling Nativity & Other Traditions
- Using Decorations to Add Symbolism & Meaning
Each year we make our own Advent calendar. Check out these online resources for your own DIY project:
- Countdown to Christmas on About.com
- Online Advent Calendars at ThriftyFun.com
- Advent & Christmas Crafts at CatholicMom.com