Advent starts today. Over the past few years we’ve settled on a few traditions as a way to celebrate this season. I know that Advent is traditionally a season of waiting. The word itself means “coming” and the season is a time in the liturgical calendar that remembers the first coming of Christ and looks forward to His second coming. I know that in the church calendar “Christmas” doesn’t technically begin until the 25th and then goes on for 12 days until Epiphany on Jan 6th. I know that therefore many people who observe Advent don’t decorate for Christmas until the 24th. Christmas carols are not sung in the time of Advent as we are supposed to be waiting and not celebrating yet.
I like this idea in theory. However, it’s not really our tradition. We don’t come from a strong liturgical church background. The church we go to decorates and sings carols in December and celebrates Advent as most people today do, as sort of an Advent/Christmas mix. And so that’s what we do also.
In practice, this works for us. As any parent knows it’s so difficult to keep Christmas for kids from being about anything other than the PRESENTS. Even the other things we do like baking cookies or shopping for presents for kids who need them or going on a special outing together are not really about Christ but about things like “having fun as a family” or “giving to our neighbors” or some generic idea of “loving each other”. And while all those are good and valuable ideas, that’s not really what Christmas is all about. Don’t get me wrong, one of the things I like about the Christmas season is that people do tend to be thinking of others. It’s not a bad thing for the world to have a season where ideas like “love” and “sharing” are valued.
However, it’s not really what Christmas is about. Christmas is about the birth of our Saviour. Of God sending His son as a tiny baby to save the world from our sins. From a more personal standpoint, of God sending His son to save me from my sins. And that’s what I want to find a way to help our kids keep in the front of their minds during the Christmas season. It’s not enough to me if they realize it’s not just about gifts but about loving each other. I don’t want the message to just be “it’s better to give than receive”. I want them to realize the best is to receive the gift of Christ.
For us, that’s where Advent comes in. In the coming weeks I plan on blogging about how we celebrate this season and what we do to try and keep Christ foremost in our own minds and those of our kids.
I’d love to see comments from others sharing what you do in your families during this time of year.