One of my favorite things to teach in English class is etymology – it is the study of the parts of words. If you know your etymology, you can define a lot of words without ever looking them up in the dictionary. So, how would we define “advent” with etymology? “Ad-” means “to or toward” and “vent” means “to come” – therefore, “advent” means “come towards.” Advent is a very special time as we “come towards” Christmas.
However, because our society can be so materialistic this time of year, it can be difficult to keep our children’s eyes and hearts focused where they belong: on the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Here are some ideas that will remind your children of the reason for the season throughout the month of December.
Many make a paper chain that kids tear off throughout the month. Why not make a paper chain of Scriptures? Read one each night.
Implement a family devotion every night you can (and don’t ever feel guilty about the nights you can’t).
- My family is doing Max Lucado’s “Celebrating Christmas with Jesus” – a devotional I found on sale after Christmas last year. They are very short and one of us reads it at dinner each night.
- If your family likes music, a friend of mine recommends the “Behold the Lamb of God” CD by Andrew Peterson. Her family has done their own advent with different songs each night and this year they have the new advent book that goes along with it. On Christmas Eve they usually watch the whole concert on DVD.
- If a devotional isn’t handy, read one chapter of Luke each night. It has 24 chapters – perfect for the advent season!
One year my grandma made a tree full of Jesus symbols. If you have an extra small tree laying around, make it your “Jesus tree.” Have your children make ornaments that represent the names of Jesus or symbols that represent them. Here is a link I found that shows you how to make easy names of Jesus ornaments:
I was researching what “Elf on a Shelf” was as many of my friends were talking about it. As I did, I came across a Christian elf on a shelf tradition. Cyndi Spivey would hide Mary and Joseph somewhere in the house for her children to find – they are on their way to Bethlehem, but make various stops along the way. Come Christmas morning, they should be found with Jesus. Here’s the website if you want to read more about it: http://cyndispivey.com/2011/12/02/my-christian-version-of-the-elf-on-the-shelf/#comments
Another of my friends had a wonderful idea centered on the nativity set. Don’t set out the nativity all at once. Wrap each piece and count down to Christmas by unwrapping one piece each night. Attach a scripture about that piece to the outside and read it before unwrapping. For example, attach to Mary a verse about her, such as Luke 1:30: “Do not be afraid Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Save Jesus for Christmas morning!
As Christmas cards come, open them over dinner and take turns reading them. Then pray for each person or family. We have just started this tradition with the first card that came last week. It was a very sweet time praying for part of our family that we never get to see.
Does your family have a unique tradition that helps keep the focus of Christmas on “coming toward” Jesus rather than a bunch of presents? Share them in the comments below!