Celebrating Advent with Your Children By Jody Capehart

Thanksgiving comes and goes by way too quickly. It is such a warm family time with the focus on giving thanks rather than ‘what am I getting’?  just as we put away the last of the Thanksgiving decorations we will be in the rush of those December days with countless things to do and places to go on our calendar.

Have you ever abbreviated things and then couldn’t remember what they stood for? I have!

Sometimes our busy, hectic December calendars start looking like a bowl of alphabet soup.  BSFP…bring snack for party? But what party? Your child’s party at school? Your Sunday School Christmas party? Your office party?  And what snack did you commit to bring?  

Oh, dear. Where did the Merry go in Christmas?

Regaining Our Focus

We get so busy doing Christmas that we can easily lose our focus on what is truly important.

Celebrating Advent is a way to help us find the hope, peace, joy, and love of Christmas that we long to experience with our families. It is a tradition that can grow with your family.

With little ones, you may light the candle(s), sing a Christmas carol, and say a prayer. As your children get older, you can add scriptures about the Christmas story, and lessons about hope, peace, love, and joy. You are building in traditions, teaching scripture and more in-depth understanding about the true meaning of Christmas as you are spending a special, quiet time with your child each night.

So, what is Advent?

Advent comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming”. It is a time for us to prepare our hearts to celebrate and reflect on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Rich in tradition, Advent is a wonderful way to usher in the Christmas season with your family and/or classroom. As a parent, grandparent, teacher, school administrator, and minister to children, I have used Advent for years as a time of wonder, worship, and time in the Word with children of all ages.

 Symbolism of the Advent Wreath

The evergreens form a wreath to represent the eternal life we have with Jesus as our Savior. There are four candles on the wreath to represent hope, peace, love, and joy. We light the candles to represent Jesus as the light in a dark world. You may also put a large white candle in the middle to light on Christmas to represent the birth of Jesus.

Each week you light a new candle starting on the 4th Sunday before Christmas which will be December 1 for this year. The first week’s theme is HOPE.  For each day you may read scriptures about HOPE, share stories and lessons to encourage HOPE in your children, sing Christmas carols, and pray together.

 Learn More about Advent

There are wonderful resources on Advent in book stores and information on the internet. A book that I found especially helpful is A Family Advent published by Thomas Nelson. 

Another wonderful resource is the Jesus Advent Tree. This is a small Christmas tree with 25 beautiful red velvet bags that have a scripture lesson and ornament to hang on the tree. You have an activity and lesson all ready to do for each day leading up to the birth of Jesus.  Last year my son gave me a beautiful Advent Tree to do with children. I have one in my classroom if you want to check it out.  

Check www. Amazon.com for these excellent resources.

People ask me about the Advent Calendars. They aren’t quite the same as celebrating Advent in the original tradition, but if you find one with scriptures that point the way to Jesus, it can be a way to begin your journey, especially with little ones.

The key is to stop the hurried and hassled part of the Christmas season. Pause, ponder, and pray as you point the way to Christ. You will experience the wonder of Christmas as you stop and listen to the silence and share this special time with your children.

May you have a meaningful Christmas with your children.