Advent. It means “coming.” It is an invitation to come and adore Christ.
Every year I’m excited for Advent. Every year Advent centers my heart on what counts as Christmas nears. It helps me keep close Christ, amidst the hustle and bustle so that Christmas Eve doesn’t arrive and it just dawns on me, O yeah, I’m supposed to be celebrating Jesus’ birth!
It can be so easy to get caught up in the stress and expectations of Christmas: to make it bigger and better. But I want to teach my kids Christmas isn’t about the tree, lights, cookies, and gifts. It’s not about materialism or even family. It’s about the coming of Jesus.
So this is how we’ll quieting our hearts this Christmas.
I’ll be reading Ann Voskamp’s advent devotional The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. I also will be sporadically reading Nancy Guthrie’s compilation of Advent readings entitled Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.
For the Kids:
We’ll be reading through Ann Voskamp’s A Jesse Tree Journey, which was a free printable a few years ago. I don’t think it’s still available. The kids will hang the ornaments that came with it to create their own Jesse tree.
Also, in the morning we’ll be doing this Jesus Storybook Advent Reading Plan while eating breakfast. We’ll actually be listening to the David Suchet read version on CD. Suchet is better known as Agatha Christie’s Poirot for Masterpiece Mystery. I guarantee you he does such a better and more dramatic reading than I would. 🙂
A Few More Resources:
I also downloaded and saved the following resources for future use:
Faith Gateway is distributing this version of the Jesus Storybook Advent plan that also includes printable ornaments.
The Story Warren put together an advent package I’ll be sure to use next year. Unfortunately, it came out too late for me to have it printed and ornaments created, so I hope to use this for the kids next Christmas. It contains readings and beautifully watercolor illustrations to hang as ornaments on a Jesse Tree.
There are so many advent options it can be hard to pick one. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pick one and I guarantee it will enrich the Christmas season.
If you already celebrate Advent, would you share your family’s tradition in the comment section?
Look forward to hearing how you like AV’s new book. I just downloaded Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Counting the Gifts, Lighting the Candles but haven’t actually started it yet. The thing I hate about traveling over Thanksgiving is that we usually don’t get home until after Advent has already started and then I feel all off-kilter and behind from the start! EF’s book has stuff for adults *and* kids but I doubt I will use the kid stuff this year.
My task for today is to figure out a different set of readings for our Jesse Tree. We have ornaments to go along with Ann’s thing–some just printed from her, most I’ve made or collected–but we’re abandoning that as our readings. The kids are too young for it and I don’t think Ann’s style works well for read-aloud at all. We used the Story Warren stuff last night, and I really liked Day 1. Just need to figure out how to mesh it all so that we can use the ornaments we already have. I think the problem is Ann’s thing starts Nov 28 so there are more ornaments, where as most everything else starts Dec 1.
We have the audio version of the JSB but I never thought to listen to it over breakfast *with* the boys – I just play it in Elijah’s room sometimes if he wakes up too early. I like your idea!
I found that one article that people were posting on FB last week such a helpful reminder. I so easily get swept up in this self-inflicted pressure to Do All The Things! for Advent…I see all these other ideas and activities people are doing and have a hard time letting go of perfectionistic ideals. I would like to try to come up with something activity-wise–not just nightly readings, but something to do with the boys, like service-oriented/others-focused. But I don’t think that’s going to happen this year…it’s something I need to plan ahead for and get all figured out before Thanksgiving next year. I’m already feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff on my own to-do list the next few weeks…especially with Thanksgiving being so much later this year than last year!
Also I probably ask this every year you post a pic of it – but where did you get that nativity? so cute.
@Amy, I got the nativity at One Step Ahead but it doesn’t look like it’s available anymore. 🙁
I would love your thoughts on “Counting the Gifts, Lighting the Candles.” I saw it and was wondering about it. I’ll let you know about the Voskamp one.
I’m with you, although we’re using Ann’s book for our kids, we actually don’t read her writing. We just use the ornaments and read the scripture then talk about it. Her writing is too hard for them to understand. I would have loved to use the Story Warren stuff but didn’t have time to do the ornaments this year, so instead of putting the pressure on myself to get it done, we’ll just wait. You’re right, with all the resources out there it can be overwhelming. I was feeling that way myself so I just downloaded the ideas to save when I can be more prepared.
I too would love to do service-oriented things. Maybe when they’re older. We did do the Operation Christmas Shoebox but that was it.
ah, now I remember, I think that was the conversation we had last year – and/or the year before – that the nativity wasn’t available anymore. alas. we don’t really *need* one, I just think that one is super cute 🙂
We are continuing with our daily reading in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals and we’re also reading a story from The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean each evening.
This year we’ll be celebrating St. Nicholas Day and learning about him as well as St. Lucia Day and learning about her. We’ve just finished making our St. Lucia dolls and they are the bees knees 🙂 We’ve spent the last few days debating our gift in the spirit of St. Nicholas and it looks as if we’ll be buying ducks and chickens for a family through World Vision. We also plan to add O Antiphons to our Advent devotions this year and celebrate the 12 days of Christmas\Epiphany.
@Amanda I JUST got The Jesse Tree by McCaughrean today from the library! You’re the second person to mention it. I didn’t realized it was readings for each day. I love all of McCaughrean’s stuff.
Last year we bought rabbits through World Vision, at least I think that’s what it was. We still have to figure out what to pick out this year. 🙂