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We all struggle with it, don’t we? We want and need to keep our family’s focus on the true meaning of the Christmas holiday—the celebration of the birth of Christ Jesus—but it’s so easy for the message to be lost in the hustle and chaos of the season. As we count down the days to Christmas, a great way to keep the focus on Jesus is to use a time-honored tradition—the advent calendar.
What is an advent calendar? The word advent literally means arrival or appearance, and we celebrate Advent—the first Christian season—to commemorate the most important arrival in history, the appearance of our Savior, the birth of Jesus. And an Advent calendar gives us a tool to help us count down each day in the season, building in anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth!
How does an advent calendar work? While the date for Advent Sunday varies each year—Advent begins on December 2nd in 2018, most Advent calendars begin on December 1 and continue for 24 days. One window, page, or entry is designated for each day through Christmas Eve. Daily entries help tell the story, many with a devotion or Scripture to reinforce the true meaning of Christmas for the whole family.
How to use an advent calendar? Amid the busyness of the season, it can be difficult to remember to stop—take a break from shopping, decorating, and baking for some time together to reflect upon the true reason we celebrate this season. This time is important, so cherish these moments together. Enjoy your family’s advent traditions (or start fresh this year!) with some simple steps.
First choose an advent calendar you love. The simplest can be posted on the wall, the fridge, or anywhere in your home; others range from tabletop devotionals to themed and decorative choices. Some families make an advent calendar to suit their taste, which brings a personalized touch to the celebrations. Whether your family chooses a traditional advent calendar or a modern themed advent calendar, the time spent together will add excitement and discovery to your Christmas celebrations.
Choose a time each day to connect spend time as a family around the calendar. Hit “pause” on the chaos of the day, and slow down to connect around a devotion or a bit of the Nativity story together.
Personalize your Advent celebration with traditions that are meaningful to your family. Some families celebrate with a sweet treat or a small gift each day, or by lighting a candle each Sunday. When searching for advent calendar ideas, consider what else could make the time extra special for you and your loved ones? Why not ask everyone to reflect on and discuss the day’s devotion, write a sentence or two each in a shared journal, or jot down something they found meaningful on slips of paper, placing each in a beautiful container to be shared later or looked back on next year (and the year after that…). These thoughts will become treasured parts of your annual advent celebration.
The last, most important step—prioritize the time each day! Keep your commitment to come together each day to remember and celebrate the reason for the season.
Advent Books and Activities
Want even more ideas to make your family’s celebration of the Advent season extra special? Check some of our favorite, inspiring Advent books like Max Lucado's "Because of Bethelehem Tabletop Devotional", Asheritah Ciuciu's "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus", or Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling for Christmas". If you have small children, try out the Shepherd on the Search activity set! You can find resources for your shepherd like an advent devotional, a companion sheep, and other fun things to help illustrate the story of Jesus' birth in a fun and exciting way for your children!
Have a blessed Christmas!
Looking for more inspiration for the Advent season? Check out these related articles:
Advent - A Season of Hope, Love, Peace & Joy
Discovering the Advent Season
Simple Advent Activities for Your Family
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB