My excitement for Christmas this year is like never before. I am experiencing Advent for the first time and it is truly something special.
I didn't know much about Advent was until last year. My church had done a sermon series on it and one of my favorite podcasters (Annie F. Downs) and Bible Study apps (She Reads Truth) were all talking about it.
When I learned about all things Advent-I just couldn't believe it!
I knew something had always been missing and I had been searching for ways to make Christ the center of this holiday, and to think...that the answer had been so simple and around for probably a millennia (forgive my Baptist roots).
So what is it? And why is it so great?
The word " Advent" means waiting for the arrival of a special person, thing, or event.
It's all about our expectant waiting for the Messiah to come.
There are four candles, one for each week of December. I think they can be different colors, but the traditional colors are 3 purple candles and one pink candle. Some sets have an extra white candle.
Week 1= Hope
Week 2= Peace
Week 3= Joy
Week 4= Jesus (Pink Candle)
When using the white candle, the Week 4 is Love and on Christmas Day the White Candle is lit representing Christ.
These candles can be displayed anyway you want, but I bought a wreath with candle holders, so that I could place them on my kitchen table.
But I didn't stop there. Part of my excitement for this Christmas, is for my nearly 3 year old son, Asher. He's finally old enough now to understand what's going on around him, and I want him to know what Christmas is really about.
I didn't want to just do a nativity scene (I did buy him a Little People Nativity to play with).
I wanted to do daily advent activities with the hopes that these activities would out shine any memory of that fictional character that children often idolize.
Now don't misunderstand me, in our house we do all the traditional American Christmas things: decorate a tree, buy gifts, stocking stuffers, Christmas villages, and Christmas lights.
I just intentionally don't mention the name "Santa" nor decorate my house with his image. I also don't wrap presents with Santa wrapping paper and we will not be putting out milk and cookies. Other people can mention Santa to my son and he can go see Santa if he wishes. I'm not "that" person. It's just not going to come from me.
From my previous elementary teacher days, I have witnessed first hand how children often idolize Santa, and my choice in no Santa decor or talking much about him, is an effort to not fan that flame. Culture will have an influence on him, but I want my influence to be stronger.
My overall hope is that when Asher is grown, that these fun Christ-centered activities is what he'll remember and cherish most and not a red suited phony.
So, I searched the internet and found a couple a good Advent Activity books, but the one I settled on was from the Jesus StoryBook Bible. They created a special ad-on book that splits the Bible story into 25 days, along with the retelling of Jesus being born in Bethlehem. It has buttons (my son loves buttons) and it sings songs and reads some of the narration. What sold me on this book, is that it also came with an activity guide.
Each activity corresponds to the day's story. Day 1 was about creation and that day's activity was to create a puzzle that says "Love." But I think my son liked Day 3 better because we got to make a snake (the day of the fall). What I love most about this book is that there are usually two options for an activity for each day and not all of them are crafts. Some are songs, some baking, and some are games. It's something I can use year after year.
And I have enjoyed this season so much! When Asher first saw the candles, he asked if there was a birthday. I smiled and said, "Well, yes!" And then told him the story of Jesus coming down to earth.
Since that day, I've had the joy and privilege of retelling Our Story with Christ, from beginning to now, adding Advent has made Christmas extra rich.
How about you? How are you enjoyed the Advent Season this year?