Believe it or not, it’s time to start planning for the season of Advent! Advent is a season observed by Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. If you have never observed the season of Advent, I highly recommend you do this year!
In the church calendar, Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas (December 1, 2019) and ends on Christmas Eve. There are many ways to make this a special time for your family. I love the anticipation of it! Like kids who are waiting for Christmas morning, believers were awaiting their Messiah before the birth of Jesus and we await his return even now.
My family began observing Advent about 20 years ago when my oldest boys were very young. We started with the book, “The Advent Jesse Tree”. The book includes daily devotionals for kids and adults. Each devotional can be pictured in the form of an ornament. Some friends and I got together and made ornaments to go with our Jesse Tree (a small artificial tree). I did a quick search on Amazon, and now they have all kinds of premade ornaments you can purchase, as well as simple paper ones your kids could color and cut out themselves. You can make this as easy or time consuming as you want!
(Enjoy this picture of my Jesse Tree scattered in amongst the homeschool papers and projects!)
Each day, I would place a wrapped ornament (just a bag with tissue paper) out for the kids to open. We would read the devotional, sing a song and place the ornament on the tree. It was a chance to pause, take a breath, and remember the reason for this busy season. My children learned the history of the people of God in a fun and tangible way that follows them now into their adult years.
Our family also observes the 4 Sundays of Advent in a special way. We have an advent candle on our dining room table and each Sunday (or Saturday if needed) we have a special meal together and light the next advent candle. Each candle has a special significance. The first week is the Prophecy Candle which proclaims the hope we have in Christ. The second candle, the Bethlehem candle signifies faith. The third candle is pink (so our only daughter Emma has claimed it as her candle). It is the Shepherd candle and reminds us of the joy we experience in Jesus’ incarnation. The fourth candle is the Angel candle and it represents peace. There is a white candle in the center, called the Christ candle, that we light on Christmas Eve.
When I still had all 4 kids at home, I would assign them each one of the Sundays. They chose the dinner, dessert and activity we would do as a family (watch a Christmas movie, play a board game, have friends over, etc.). The dinners didn’t have to be cook-all-day events. They were usually pretty simple, but I always got out “fancy glasses” for the kids to drink their soda (also a rare treat) out of.
I encourage you to take some time this week and look ahead to the upcoming season. How can you make it more meaningful and educational for your family? If you plan it all out now, it will be easy to implement come December.