For as long as I can remember I’ve loved Christmas. I love the decorations, the lights, the coziness of hot chocolate, fires, and family get-togethers. Since getting married and having children, I have loved establishing our own family traditions and making special Christmas memories with my kids. We bake cookies, play lots of games, listen to Christmas carols and put together some puzzles. But my favourite of all the traditions we’ve started has been to celebrate Advent, because the most important take-away from Christmas that I want my kids to remember is that the true gift of Christmas is Jesus.
Celebrating Advent is a way to remember the anticipation of the coming Messiah from Old Testament times, and serves as a reminder for us to look forward to Jesus’ future return to Earth. The primary way our family has chosen to celebrate Advent is through our daily Bible reading. Some years we’ve simply read a few verses a day and had some way of visually counting down the days in December. Other years, I’ve found an Advent-themed devotional to read as a family and a variety of activities or crafts that go with the readings. One year we printed and cut out each character of the nativity from our count-down cards and set up our own nativity scene, ending of course, with baby Jesus. Another year we learned all about the different names of God. Last year we made an ornament that corresponded with each day’s Bible reading.
There are tons of Advent devotional books out there, and many Christian organizations like Focus on the Family also put out a free one each year. Advent begins on Sunday, November 28th this year (four Sundays before Christmas day, so the number of days in Advent can vary from year to year depending on which day Christmas falls). Alternatively, you could choose to start on December 1st or some other set amount of time before Christmas. Will you join us in celebrating Advent?
Links to a few free resources to get you started:
Jesse Tree Reading List, Devotional, and Ornament printables (or design your own ornaments!)
2017 Focus on the Family Advent Calendar and Devotional (the nativity scene one I mentioned above… my tip: print on cardstock or thick paper! Also, because the length of Advent varies from year to year and started on December 3rd in 2017, this one would allow you to miss a few days without getting behind!)
~ Megan Van Andel