advent {a getting ready and a staying focused}

how do you make the most of the Christmas season?
how do you authentically embrace one of the two most celebrated events in the Christian faith that have such secular traditions?
 i've thought for years you can still have
 it all for your children.
that santa, frosty, and baby Jesus
 could all be unpacked from the Christmas bins below the bed
and put in their decorated place for a month.
one always is elevated.
one always is more talked about.
one always is more celebrated.
one always gets more glory.
but the magic and wonder and Christmas spirit that seem to unfold as the lights and ornaments are hung on the tree...
i have learned (as a parent) that all of this goes right back into the boxes as the new year begins. that unpacking tradition and memories are sentimental, but only reflect the past.
how can i expect our children to embrace what is 
and what is to come? 
how can we welcome in the Christmas season with joy and celebration that embed peace in our hearts 
and hope for the future? 
we observe Advent.
it's not just a day, but a string of days.
it not's just an ancient observance, but a present worship.
it's not a daily chocolate treat from trader joes, but a gratifying delight leading up to Christmas Day.
it's intentional teachable moments.
it requires preparation at home.
it insists on a parent's pure heart and leadership.
it's all about Jesus and putting Him front and center in the home, above santa and frosty.
here's how we do it.
we set up the Jesse Tree
for us it's a small artificial tree.
the tree is symbolic of the Branch growing up from the line of David, the son of Jesse. [Isaiah 11]
we prepare the Advent bags
the bags line the wall on burlap string attached with painted clothspins.
in each bag is an ornament that coincides with the daily readings and a way we will celebrate the season with purpose.
credit to ann voskamp for the ornaments and devotional.
we anticipate Christmas Day
each day we read the Scriptures.
we talk of God's plan all along since creation to redeem mankind.
we thank God for His Son and His love for us.
one of the kids takes down the bag and hangs the ornament on the Jesse Tree and reads what we will enjoy doing as a family for the day or a way we will give to others. 
all in the waiting.
all in the expecting of Christ's birth.
all together as a family.
Advent Calendar ideas  
i share with you our ideas.
i searched far and wide to copy someone else's
{as i am in the habit of borrowing other's really great ideas}
but found very few.
i write most of these generically that can be used in any home, in any city, but there are the exceptions. 
yet you can take the concept and make it fit your setting.
in creating these ideas or hearing some from you, 
about half are others focused
and the other half are family specials.

sing songs to the elderly

make our best friend’s cake pops
watch Home Alone together
meet some of the needs of a homeless person
play a family board game
play charades with Christmas carols
wrap gifts for others
shop for our family and those in need
share at least a dozen things we’re thankful for
read Christmas books
enjoy hot cocoa with our neighbors in our home
bake cookies for those that serve us (postman, garbage men)
tape quarters to parking meters
make gingerbread houses
drive around and look at Christmas lights
experience Union Square at night
family big breakfast
city/community project
intentionally do something kind for each family member
participate in church Christmas offering
read the Christmas story
Advent candle light dinner
host a family over for dinner
celebrate Jesus’ birthday
decorate and mail cards to those we love
sleepover by the Christmas tree
imagine together what all took place in the stable that night

we do not "do" an activity every day. this is a list we choose from.

life happens so we work into this Christmas season the very faces and places God has us serving.


*a note to us moms, especially.
the creative aspect might have been fulfilling.
the assembling and decorating therapeutic.
corralling our kids to participate in advent a task.
give this season to the Star, the Christ.
commit Advent to being worshipful, reverent, celebratory.
enjoy it all...
the wonder & the worship along with your family.
for this is all about what IS and what IS to come.

oh, for us all, it's the most wonderful time of the year. for He has come.

oh, He has come to us!