How to Make Christmas Meaningful (Part 1) – Celebrate Advent with Your Children

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Thanksgiving has passed. There doesn’t seem to be a clear line delineating the seasons of thankfulness and Christmas these days. When I wake up from the tryptophan-induced fog of Thanksgiving and realize that Christmas starts moments after I dish up the turkey and jello for the 5-yr.old, I freak out! I love Thanksgiving and we have an unwritten rule around here that we don’t really even talk about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. If you haven’t read my Thanksgiving post, you can do that here.

making christmas meaningfulUsually, I feel like the chaotic Christmas season sweeps me along in its current and I hang on for dear life. Not wanting my kids to “miss out,” I shuttle them from one event to the next constantly thinking to myself, “we’ll put up our tree tomorrow…we’ll bake cookies for our neighbors tomorrow…we’ll catch up with our advent reading tomorrow” etc. Tomorrows come and go …. we get so busy “doing” that we forget about the “being” part of Christmas.

One tradition that we have tried to do, some years with more success than others, is to celebrate advent. I wasn’t raised with this tradition in my family or in the church we attended when I was a child so I really didn’t understand what it was all about until about 10 yrs. ago. Then I became aware of how it could bring more meaning to our over-commercialized holiday by helping us focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Advent books to read with childrenThis series of books by Arnold Y’treeid’es has become one of our absolute favorite things we do during the season of Advent – the days leading up to Christmas. Beginning the Sunday after Thanksgiving, there’s a daily reading selection every day through Christmas day …. a short chapter. Each historical fiction book takes the reader on an adventure culminating with the birth of Christ. At the end of each chapter is a short devotional which brings the focus back to Jesus and Christmas. And I’m SO excited because there is a new one this year!
There’s no particular order that you must read them … We actually started with the 2nd book of the series, Bartholomew’s Journey. We were hooked! Next we read, Jotham’s Journey and then Tabitha’s Travels. This year we’re reading the new release, Ishtar’s Odyssey. We always look forward to the next Advent so that we can read another one. The author’s website has additional “special features” for each book which includes maps, photos and more.
Yes, I know, the advent season has officially already begun. It began the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, but don’t panic! We’ve started late many times, sometimes as much as a week to 10 days. I’ve learned that if I wait until everything is perfect, I never start anything.
So just start where you ARE. Depending on the age and attention span of your kids, you could go back and do a quick overview of the reading to “catch up” but it’s not necessary. We’ve doubled up on the readings each day to catch up as well…the stories are so engaging that this has been easy to do. Even when we’re not playing catch up they will beg me to read more!
What are some meaningful ways your family keeps Christ at the center of Christmas? I’d love to hear how you maintain the balance … leave a comment or reach out to me on Facebook.
Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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