Every year I try to find a healthy balance as I celebrate the holiday season with my family. On one hand, I want it to be fun. We all love candy and cookies and presents and lights. On the other hand, I am aware that the focus of our celebration should be on Christ and that spending lots of money on our wants while neglecting the needs of others is not a Christ-honoring way to celebrate.
We have no perfect system in place; it’s a creative challenge every year. But there is one family tradition that anchors our time of preparation and celebration. Each year we prepare and use an Advent calendar. Here is our calendar for this year:
Grace (age 8) did most of the work on this. All it takes is 3 egg cartons (well, 2 plus one cup) and 25 paper circles–I used a 2″ circle punch. Underneath each circle is a small paper cut out of something for our Nativity scene (angel, shepherd, donkey, star . . . ) and a few pieces of candy. (Which some might consider bribery. But there is a fine line between bribery and motivation.)
[For Advent 2014, we also included a scripture reading or quote for each day. You can find the list we used here.]
Each day of Advent (or as often as possible) we take off one of the circles, eat the candy, and glue the figure on our scene. If it’s a really good night we will take time for prayer and/or scripture reading. And the kids love to light the Advent candle. Baby Jesus, of course, is under number 25. He gets put in place Christmas morning before we open presents.
So while we definitely do not have this whole family Advent/Christmas thing all figured out, I do commend to you this practice. It is one that my teenage children still enjoy. (Or at least they pretend to for the sake of the candy.) And it is a daily reminder to focus on the gift of Jesus, however hectic the season gets.
I would love to hear about your family traditions during the Christmas season. What helps to keep you rooted in Christ?