Anticipating with Advent
In years past I've been particular about my dealings with Christmas. I had my rules: no decorations until after Thanksgiving and DEFINITELY no Christmas music until the week of Christmas. But last year something changed. Last year I did an advent study with Aiden and my love of Christmas grew one hundred fold. In fact, this year I even considered decorating before Thanksgiving but with our house on the market decorating was put on hold. I even listened to a Christmas playlist today. ON NOVEMBER 28TH!
Don't get me wrong, I've always loved Christmas but doing advent changed the way I celebrate. Advent come from the Latin word adventus which means “coming” or “visit." The anticipation of commemorating our savior coming into the world has a whole new meaning for me now. He is our Emmanuel - "God with us." What glorious news!
The advent study I chose last year followed readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Loyd-Jones. If you don't have this book, get one ASAP. I don't care if you don't have kids. I will read this book even when my boys are out of the house. It is beautifully written, packed full of theology, and Christ focused. It has brought me to tears on multiple occasions. You can download the advent study for free by clicking here.
Here's what I do with Aiden to prepare our hearts for Christmas. Each day we sit down and do the reading for that day. I try to come up with a simple phrase that summarizes the reading for that day. Each day we review the all the phrases before doing the next reading. I always chuckled last year when Aiden would emphatically declare, "I'm a sinner!" Thankfully he also learned, "Jesus rescues." We also do an advent activity each day. These things range from Christmas crafts to making cookies to going to local events. I've included my list for this year below. Often we do things we "normally" do, like going to the library or doing a craft, but I'll try to make it Christmas focused. There are plenty of free holiday activities in town. I just searched for "holiday events Springfield, MO" and found some events I'm really excited to take Aiden to.
Make sugar cookies and take them to the neighbors
Christmas light looking
Christmas TV shows (Curious George, Veggie Tales, etc)
Open Christmas pajamas
Christmas coloring pages
Hot cocoa, popcorn, and a Christmas movie
Make Christmas cards for Grandparents
Finger paint Christmas light craft
Pick out present for cousin Emmett
Go to the library and pick out Christmas books
Buy decorations for room
Christmas baking soda glitter eruptions
Cotton ball snow man
Christmas pancakes (we use Christmas sprinkles to make them festive)
Gingerbread house decorating
DIY mason jar snow globes
Holiday train garden display at a local park
Christmas parade in downtown Springfield
Bass Pro Shops
These activities don't really relate to our reading from the day. It's just something fun to do each day. I buy the materials ahead of time and decide that day what I have the energy to do. I love doing the activities in addition to the reading. We get to focus on Jesus and what Christmas actually means as well as doing some fun things. I really treasured all the moments of advent last year; the significant conversations we got to have about Jesus as well as the holiday activities that brought us both a lot of joy.
I don't know how much Aiden remembers from our advent study last year, but I do know that God used it in my life tremendously. I've never viewed Christmas quite like this before. I think that I never anticipated the arrival of our Savior or celebrated the magnitude of this event quite enough. I'm happy to say that from now on I will. So bring on all the decorations and the music. Because they help me eagerly await Christmas day and all that day represents.