Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Thoughts - Advent

I didn't really grow up with Advent. I sometimes got one of those little cardboard things with the cutouts for each day and a piece of chocolate inside, but I didn't even know what Advent was. I think it was when I was pregnant with Princess that our church did an Advent wreath. They would light a candle each Sunday of Advent and talk about what that week was celebrating. It was then that I began to think more about the season. Then last year, I was challenged through Homemaker's By Choice to build traditions into the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. They asked Moms to think about traditions from when they were children and told us to ask our husbands what traditions they remembered. Each week, they would talk about the focus area of the week. I took the explanations, below, from the advent wreath I hope to get soon, and each week is as follows:

The 1st Sunday Symbolizes Hope with the Prophet’s Candle – Jesus is coming.
The 2nd Sunday Symbolizes Faith with the Bethlehem Candle – Mary & Joseph journey to Bethlehem.
The 3rd Sunday Symbolizes Joy with the Shepherd’s Candle – Joy at the coming birth of Jesus.
The 4th Sunday Symbolizes Peace with the Angel’s Candle – The Message of the Angels “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men"

Last year, I talked to Ryan about traditions I had always enjoyed as a kid, and what things I wanted to build into our traditions for our kids. I found a list of ideas at Homemaker's By Choice, and searched on the internet for other ideas. Then, after my husband had a heart attack got over the price tag, we bought a wooden Advent Calendar that we could add to ourselves with the activities we chose for that year.

This is our Advent Calendar:

Every day the kids get to open one of the doors and they see three M&M's (one for each of them) along with two other items...

The first is the magnet that they get to put up that day. By the end of the Advent season, we will have the whole nativity scene on the board above. The other little thing there is a scroll with the advent activity of the day. This is where I am hoping to build more tradition into our Christmas. Our kids are young, so we are really trying to balance the fun celebration of the season with knowing why we are celebrating. Some of our activities focus just on the fun of the season - sleepovers, surprise gifts, no chores - while the other activities focus on Jesus coming and the eternal gift that that is to us. The first week of this year's calendar we used "What God Wants for Christmas" and the kids got to open one box each day.  I thought it would be good to start the season with a focus on Jesus.

I hope to add a new tradition each year. I am sure some will last through the years, and others will either be outgrown or never really work. I am hoping to add an advent wreath for the four Sundays next year. For now, here is the list of things we chose for this year.

  1. Set Up Advent Magnet Board
  2. What God Wants For Christmas Box 1
  3. What God Wants for Christmas Box 2
  4. What God Wants for Christmas Box 3
  5. What God Wants for Christmas Box 4
  6. What God Wants for Christmas Box 5
  7. What God Wants for Christmas Box 6
  8. What God Wants for Christmas Box 7
  9. Library Trip for Christmas Books
  10. No TV Tonight...We are playing games!
  11. Taryn sleepover in Evan's Room Tonight!
  12. We are Going Bowling!
  13. Here are some gifts you can share... - We gave them some Christmas Books with CDs.
  14. Evan Sleepover in Taryn's Room Tonight!
  15. A Dollar for You, a Dollar for Them! - Go to the Dollar store and purchase a toy for you and for Toys for Tots.
  16. Ice Cream for Dinner tonight!
  17. No Chores Today!
  18. Help to Feed the Hungry today! - Go to the Grocery Store and pick out food for the Food Bank.
  19. Grab Your Cup of Cocoa tonight for a drive to see the Lights! - Our neighborhood lines the streets with luminaries, so we drive around enjoying the displays at people's houses and the candle lit streets.
  20. Christmas Present for the neighbors.
  21. No Chores Today!
  22. Finish Putting Up Your Magnets...Travel Day tomorrow! - We are also going to let them open some cards they have received already.  =0)

Whatever your traditions are, I know that they build a family up. So, I encourage you to find some fun things you can do in your family that will serve as a lasting bond. One of the things I STILL love to do is put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving to the tunes of Bing Crosby. Man! Even the thought brings back memories of childhood. I just can't wait to hear what things my kids remember from their Christmases while they were growing up!

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