*Originally posted on December 2, 2007
I don't know how we've neglected celebrating Advent during Christmas time, but somehow, it's not been a part of our family traditions... until now!!! The AO Yahoo group has had some great posts about Advent which inspired Erich and me to start the celebration. So, I went to Family Christian Bookstore yesterday and bought some items to help start off our new family tradition.
I found this precious magnetic Advent Calendar:
(Can't seem to find it on Family Christian's website, but you can order it here.)
The girls are very excited to open "door #1" to find tonight's piece to add to the manger scene. :)
I also found this great Advent devotional here:
The author has a daily bible study, prompting questions as well as Christmas songs that go with the day's lesson. We got an Advent Wreath with candles... and even found this awesome Free Advent curriculum on Miiko's blog. Nothing can beat "free", right? :) From what I've read so far, it seems very interactive with the kids and looks like a great family study!
I'm going to wrap up a Christmas book, DVD or CD to open each night as well. (I'll have to get some more from the library, b/c I don't think I have 24 of them) I plan on wrapping The Gift of the Magi, A Christmas Carol, and some other "classic" Christmas stories. I thought it would be fun to wrap and then watch movies like "Charlie Brown's Christmas", "Dr. Suess' The Grinch", "The Nativity Story", "It's a Wonderful Life", etc.... I'm sure there are more great ones. :)
I also bought Handel's Messiah... how perfect for Christmas, perfect because Handel is this Term's composer... and perfect that it was on sale for $5.00 at Family Christian Bookstore! :)
We are very excited to start tonight, and I pray that we have our hearts in the right place as we celebrate this Christmas season and I feel that doing an Advent celebration each night will help us in that.
One *funny* story for you: Erich and I bought the girls' Christmas presents last week and hid them in the car. (One of our traditions is to purchase only 3 gifts for the girls, symbolizing the 3 different gifts given to Jesus) In haste yesterday, Erich unloaded them and put them in our bathroom. He closed the bathroom door and our bedroom door and told the girls "off-limits". Later on in the evening, Ava came running to us sobbing her eyes out. She was crying so hard, I thought for sure she was either hurt or saw something very scary. She cried out, "I'm so very sorry, I forgot and went into your bathroom and saw my presents... and now I know what I'm getting!" She was so visibly upset that her Christmas surprise was not a surprise anymore. My heart just broke for her and as Erich calmed her down (he always does that so well) I started to get upset at our "laziness" in not finding a better hiding place for the presents, but at the same time, I was truly impressed at Ava's honesty and her sincerity in feeling badly that her surprise had been revealed. We apologized to her that we weren't more diligent about hiding the gifts better, and found out that she had only seen one of the presents. Whew! She came back to me later in the evening and said in a cheerful voice, "You know, I still have 2 more surprises that will come Christmas morning and I'm looking forward to that! Oh, and I'm very sorry that I forgot about not going into your bathroom." What a sweet and understanding heart she has!!! (I wish I were more like her at 5 years old) As I pondered about the whole "surprise" ordeal, and what we are supposed to be focused on during Christmas, I was reminded that it's not about the presents... it's not about the surprise on Christmas morning... it's ALL about Christ! I shouldn't be sad that Ava knows one of her presents and she shouldn't be sad either... if we are keeping Christ's birth as the focus, it doesn't matter if there are any presents at all exchanged on Christmas morning... it only matters that God sent Christ as a present to the World, and that's what we are to be celebrating!
I asked the girls to tell me what "the world" says is most important during Christmas time, and they answered "Presents!" I then asked them to tell me what Christians should value during Christmas time, and they answered "The birth of Christ". So, I challenged them to make sure their hearts are focused on that truth in addition to showing "the world" how they celebrate Christmas differently by focusing on Christ's birth and God's gift to the World.
Think about this: You don't hear about non-Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah, or non-Muslim people celebrating Ramadan... but MANY non-believers celebrate Christmas. That is very telling on how secular "the world" has made Christmas out to be by focusing on Santa, children's "wish lists", stockings full of goodies, and malls crowded with cranky people over-spending and going into debt buying things that will be next year's Goodwill donation. And as Christians... we need to show others the TRUE meaning of Christmas... Christ's birth and what a glorious celebration it is that He came to give us Life eternal!
As you and your family prepare for Christmas, I pray that you will be the Light to the world by focusing on what God would want you celebrating: His Gift to you... His Son, Jesus!
Have a blessed day!