It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! (And it's beginning to look like this is one of my longest posts ever!)
Things are about to get very busy wherever you are! I do not want to have a stressful Christmas or Advent season so I do as much as I can in advance. This is not to say that those of you who procrastinate (I have been there!) or those of you who can’t see the end of the day (let alone the end of the season) are wrong or that you can’t have a relaxing and meaningful Advent/Christmas season. You can! We just have to be intentional. I could easily get all my Christmas “stuff” done early but not have my heart ready for Christmas!
I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent- this is a relatively new phenomenon for me but I love it. I love it because if we let it do what it was meant to do, it will prepare us and make us more in tune to the manger and ultimately, the Cross. This is the beginning of our greatest season as Christians- I say the beginning because Easter is the climax of all celebrations for those who love and follow Jesus- but let’s not forget about the babe in the manger whose sole purpose in coming was to take us back Home with Him.
As we begin Advent this coming Sunday, I wanted to share a few things I do to slow down the season and make it more meaningful and more worshipful…
1. Prepare by observing Advent.
*Maybe you have never participated in any Advent doings but, especially if you have children, this can be one of the highlights of the season! Our family has been reading this beautiful Advent book since our eldest child was born. It was created and illustrated by a local artist and we love it. You can purchase your own copy here.
*Another idea to consider is a Jesse Tree. We are going to do it this year. I am excited for my children to participate and I will show pictures of our own Jesse Tree later. Ann Voskamp has a great resource that includes ornaments and daily devotionals for you to print off and download, if you subscribe as a reader.
*Others do an Advent calendar. I particularly like this one by Jessi Connolly. I didn’t choose to do the calendar this year because I figure we are already preparing through 2 different ways.
2. Less is More.
*I know it goes against our very nature as loving moms (and parents) to not give our children everything they want. I want to challenge you to think about gift-giving in a more meaningful manner. Kids don’t need everything they want and our American culture has so convinced us that we will be inferior and our kids will be inferior if we don’t get in line (by now you may have missed your chance!) to buy that coveted item or latest electronic "i-gadget".
*Pare down the amount of gifts your child(ren) will receive. Make it a goal to give a few things that are meaningful instead of a higher quantity of gifts that will be forgotten in a few months. For example, my older daughter loves horses and loves to create. So, my husband (I am embarrassed to say that HE came up with this and not me!) suggested that we give her scrapbook materials. She will love this! So we purchased horse stickers, a spiral bound scrapbook, and are planning to print off pictures that we have of her on different horses and ponies. Gifts like this will go a long way down memory lane, too.
3. Put on the brakes.
* Say no to as many things as possible. I am not kidding. It’s OK to pass up that birthday party on behalf of your child. It’s OK not to send out Christmas cards this year. It’s OK not to fly across the country when you have infants and small children. It’s OK not to go to the annual cookie exchange.
*Say yes to the meaningful times with your family and friends. Say yes to sitting by your lighted Christmas tree and wrapping your mind around the Savior of the world coming to light the Earth with His arrival.
So, friends, enjoy this Advent season. Don’t let it go by too fast before you have had time to ponder and slow down. And now, I would like to know… what do you and your family do to observe Advent?