Today I'm talking all about Advent. Of all our Christmas traditions, this one is the most meaningful and important to us. In celebrating Advent, we are preparing our hearts for Christmas. We are reflecting and focusing as a family as we anticipate the coming of Christ. Not only are we looking back at the birth of Christ, but we are also looking ahead to the day when He will come again.
It's so easy to get caught up in all of the Christmas-hoopla, and we can forget what it is we are supposed to be celebrating. So we have found a few ways to take time each day to come together, as a family, and bring the focus back to Jesus.
I first heard about this book from another mom at church - she was so passionate when she talked about how wonderful it was! Caleb was still itty-bitty then, and Makayla wasn't even born yet, but I knew that it was something that I wanted to do with our family. Last year was our first year to read through the book together, and we absolutely loved it. We cuddle by the Christmas tree every night before bed, and we read one page. Each night, we read one more page, so by Christmas day, we've read the story 25 times. The book tells the Biblical account of the Christmas story, and each page has beautiful doors that the kids open as we read. It is such a gorgeous book, and the kids look forward to reading it every night. This is definitely a tradition that we will carry on for many, many years.
This is our first year to read this book, but it will definitely not be our last. This book is written by Ann Voskamp, who has such an amazing way with words. There are 25 stories - one for each day leading up to Christmas - and it goes through stories of the Bible, beginning with Creation and leading up to Christ's birth. There are printable coloring sheets and ornaments available on her website. So every afternoon, the kids color while we read the story for that day. Other kids might be fine to just sit and listen, but this book is a bit wordy and heavy for my kids' ages and attention spans. The coloring pages really help them to sit still, and it really amazes me how much they are still hearing and absorbing. After the story, we go to our Advent box where we have the corresponding ornament. They hang the ornaments on our Jesse tree (named after Jesus' ancestor, Jesse, who was King David's father) - which is simply a bunch of tree branches that I put in a vase. This is such a simple thing, but my kids love it and look forward to it every day!
So that is what we are doing this year, and really, I can see us doing this for many years to come. The main thing is to get some ideas of things to do with your family, and then make it work. (Go on pinterest and type in Advent - you'll be amazed at how many ideas are out there!) We've tried some other things over the last few years, but for whatever reason, they weren't the right fit for our family. These books are working for us, and I am so grateful for some of the sweet moments that we've had this month because of them.
We are making memories!