This is the first year we’ve ever celebrated advent at home. Is this a Baptist thing? Catholic? Because we’ve really been feeling the peer pressure from them over the years. 🙂 Did you know that they do this at home every year? I had never even heard of it until I was an adult, but I think it is so cool! Another reason I’ve put this tradition off (this is pitiful), is because it always felt like something you did with big families. I felt like gathering for these nightly devotions and activities would be something we would do once our family grew. I realized that this year, B is old enough, and it is ridiculous (and unfair) to wait on traditions like this.
So, one day into advent (late, of course), I headed to Target to try and find a calendar of some kind. I found this (I was looking for the cheap paper ones with chocolates, but they were off the shelves):
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. And in my opinion, there are so many ways to teach our kids to stop focusing on presents. Advent has become one of our most important ones. Every night (or sometime during the day), we gather up and open the box for our day. In it, I’ve put a slip of paper with the Bible verse for our day’s devotion. We chose to use Lifeway’s The Expected One App, downloaded to my iphone (there are several choices for Advent Family Devotionals out there, or you can make up your own!). I also include some candy (super important), and a slip with a family activity written on it (make s’mores, read a Christmas book, watch a Christmas movie, talk about your favorite tradition, ect). Side note: B’s favorite Christmas tradition is Caroling! Score. (Now aren’t we all glad that I stubbornly made you guys push me around the cul de sac in that wheelchair so that we could carol last year?!) B has been reading the verse out of his own Bible and then we do the devotion and discussion questions together. Sometimes it requires a bit of cajoling to keep my 6 year old’s attention, but I usually can remind him that we have a fun activity at the end. 🙂
I didn’t think anything of it, but when we have company (frequently), I invite them to participate. It has been incredible. Stu mentioned yesterday that it never would have occurred to him before, to have people do advent with us! He would have simply skipped it, and would have considered it an imposition to ask someone to do it with our family. I suppose there could be people who feel that way, but I feel pretty strongly that if we’re going to start a tradition as important as advent, we will stick with it. And including others, to me, is a way of welcoming them into our family at Christmastime! So far we’ve had B’s sweet sitter, and maybe 3 other families sit with us through advent and I have loved hearing their insight, especially the kids.
My favorite reason for having this daily devotional is that our focus now, every single day, is on Jesus Christ. We are all learning more about Him as we prepare to celebrate his birth on Christmas Day. Honestly, this means we can enjoy all the other fun and magical aspects of Christmas, too (yes, even SANTA! :)), knowing that our priorities are in line.
I’m writing all of this to encourage you. It’s not to late to celebrate advent! Start with Day 9 and get moving, there is still so much to learn! There are so many ways to do it, with or without a calendar, and I can guarantee that most kids really do love having a reason to sit down as a family for quality time. And if they don’t, well, you’re in charge and you know what’s best for them. 😉 Really, is there anything more precious than being together? Find a way to do it this season, and this is a perfect avenue. Merry Christmas!