Advent began about a week ago for Christians around the world, but do you really know what Advent is?
Advent is the season of waiting for Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it ends on Christmas Eve. Many people simplify by celebrating Advent from December 1 to 24, and this year, it just worked out that way. No matter when you observe Advent, it is a time of happiness, celebration, and hopeful anticipation of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We all look forward to the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
Most of us give presents to our kids, friends, and family, and that night and morning are so very special. The month of waiting leading up to that? It’s hard. Nobody likes to wait. I hate waiting. My kids hate waiting. Waiting stinks. Celebrating Advent as its own holiday, a special event all its own, makes the waiting for Christmas come a little easier. The days pass more quickly. And, best of all, we talk about Jesus all month long, so when the exciting whirlwind of Santa and his elves blows through, I don’t worry about new toys and old legends. My kids know the Reason for the Season.
If you’ve spent a month looking forward to and celebrating His birth, He is in the back of your mind, even as you rip the paper off the brand new amazing whiz banger you’ve been dying to have all year long. So, enough talking about why you should be celebrating Advent. Here are some ideas for how to celebrate Advent at your house:
Use an Advent wreath every night at dinner.
It’s a simple circle of candles – three purple and one pink, with a large white candle in the center – and we light the candles in a certain order as the month goes by. On Christmas Eve, we light all four of the colored candles as well as the white candle (representing Jesus).
Make a Jesse Tree.
The Jesse Tree is my very favorite Advent tradition. Essentially, it’s a tree and you put a new ornament on each day. The tree can be a tabletop tree (what we use), a large tree, a poster of a tree, or a tree cut out of construction paper. The ornaments begin with God creating the world on the first day, Adam and Eve on the second, the fall on the third, and they continue through Noah, Isaac, Abraham, Joseph, King David, Esther, and many others. By the end, you have traced most of the major figures in the lineage of Jesus as it is described in the New Testament. It’s a wonderful trip through the Old Testament, through stories familiar and unfamiliar.
Create a daily craft from Truth in the Tinsel.
This little ebook is full of meaningful craft projects, one per day during Advent. Rather than duplicating the Jesse Tree, it is a children’s study of the Christmas story, beginning when the angel told Mary she would have a child and ending with the birth of Jesus. It’s really great. Printable color pages are also available if you need a quicker than a craft option.
Buy an Advent Calendar.
Read a special Advent book every night.
Reading to your kids (especially at bedtime) is such a special habit to start with, but reading a book specifically about Jesus brings the whole Advent thing full circle. Some great options are The Story of Christmas, Itsy Bitsy Christmas, The Pine Tree Parable, and Gigi’s Perfect Christmas Gift.
The key to observing Advent isn’t doing every possible activity every day. The key to observing Advent is celebrating the coming birth of Jesus, celebrating a God that has so much love for us that He sent His Son as a humble human baby, born in a stable. If you make it fun and interesting and you make it about Jesus, you can’t go wrong.