I had several ideas floating around in my head about how we should spend Advent this year. As we neared Thanksgiving, the list grew longer and longer. I wanted to make some sort of calendar or project the kids could open daily. I wanted to do several activities that would encourage us to think of others, spend time together as a family, and celebrate God's gift to us.
The plans in my head grew more and more elaborate and new ideas would catch my attention making it seem like an enormous undertaking. I really want my kids to know the Truth of Christmas. I don't want it to be about getting presents and eating food and a fat little man who's not even real. I want it to be about the very real God who loves us so much that He gave Himself to us. I want it to be about giving. I want it to be about worship. I want my kids to be giddy with excitement--with great anticipation for real things that matter!
But, my kids are young. They do not understand the deep things of Christ incarnate. But, they do understand simple concepts. So, my task was clear--use simple things to explain the complex. Hmm...yeah, that's easy! NOT!
So, here's what we're doing. This is Part I.
We celebrate Advent by doing simple readings from a book I got at our local Christian store last year. It's called "The Story of Christmas: Advent Devotional" by Yolanda Browne (Concordia Publishing, 2002). Honestly, it's not that impressive. But, each day's devo is short and allows us to talk about simple truths. We usually read the devo for the day (or 2 b/c we had to skip a night) at dinnertime or right before bed.
Our Advent candles aren't in a wreath. It's something we already had in a closet and never used. (I bought it back in 2002 as we were planning for our wedding. We thought about having these as the centerpieces.) We light one candle the first week, every night. Then add the second candle each night of week two and so on. If you don't know about Advent, you can read a good post here.
Since my kids are so young and absolutely love books, I thought I could use Christmas books (ones that focus on Christ's birth) as a fun thing. I found the idea here in Kirby's blog (someone I don't know) and then found a list of good books here (Tot School).
Here's how it works, you get a pile of Christmas books, wrap them up, put them by your tree, then let your kids unwrap one new book each day. Personally, we have things going at least a few nights a week, so we will skip some nights. And, it worked out well because I only have 16 books for the project right now. Guess what I'll be looking for during after-Christmas sales?!
We got started late on this idea since I just found it on Wednesday. We read the first book (didn't have them wrapped yet, so I just picked one) on Saturday night. We skipped last night because we hosted a party for the neighborhood (pictures to come). Asa's been talking about the little angel since we read the book (Littlest Angel). I can already tell this is going to be a great way to focus on Christ this Christmas with these three!
After I found the list, I went online to our library, searched for books, and put a hold on any they had available. I picked them up Saturday afternoon and found a few more on the shelf that I thought would be good. I finally got all the books wrapped this morning and put in a basket by our tree. They got excited seeing things to unwrap. Talk about anticipation!
I'm including a list below of the books I got from the library. I already had two little board books, The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs and The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado.
The animal's gift by Szabolcs de Vajay
B is for Bethlehem : a Christmas alphabet by Wilner, Isabel.
Can It Be True? by Hill, Susan.
The Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Wojciechowski, Susan.
Cricket at the Manger by Fine, Edith Hope.
The donkey's dream by Berger, Barbara Helen.
Jacob's gift by Lucado, Max.
The legend of the candy cane by Walburg, Lori.
The little drummer boy by Davis, Onorati, and Simeone.
The littlest angel by Tazewell, Charles.
The Stable that Bob Built by Kenney, Cindy.
Voices of Christmas by Grimes, Nikki.
While Shepherd's Watched by Fleetwood, Jenni.
Who is coming to our house? by Slate, Joseph.