“The Lord’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together; the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.” Isaiah 40:5
Advent. The season of preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ.
I love Advent. I love preparing for Christmas by retelling the story of the birth of Christ and trying to find new ways for my family to grow closer to the God of the universe who came to earth in the vessel of a teenage girl about the same age as my fifteen year old daughter. Born in a stable, Jesus was greeted by the lowly shepherds and then by great men of wisdom with expensive gifts that would help he and his parents survive the coming years. Gifts of spices and gold. Gifts that foretold the baby’s future. The gold of royalty, Frankincense, an aromatic tree resin that helps strengthen the immune and digestive system, as well as other properties and Myrrh, the resin of a shrub used for perfume and embalming. Practical gifts used for surviving and- yes, even the foreshadowing of death preparation.
Every Advent season I learn something new and extraordinary about the birth of Christ. Sometimes I get lost in tradition and miss the point of the birth entirely, though. Gifts, family expectations and an overbooked calendar clog my heart valves and I fail to receive the love bundled in the swaddling clothing sent to set up a relationship by a God who cares about me.
One way I combat the heart clogging loss of love reception, is to get organized. I want the organization to be fun though. That’s when the idea of using the Advent Calendar to help organize Christmas activity came in.
The Advent calendar was an idea started by some Germans in the 1800’s as a device to count down to Christmas, excuse me, Weihnachten. Pre-made Advent Calendars are in gift, craft and stationary stores. But, I prefer the home-made ones. Here’s why. Holiday seasons are chaotic. I customize the Advent Calendar as an organizational tool (Sounds like no fun, I know. But once it’s in order there is tons of fun to be had!) The Advent calendar helps me line up Christmas scriptures into daily bite size pieces and plan for the things we love to do. The set up helps the administrator of Thorntonville (me) get a grip on what is really on the calendar so Thorntonville can build in some slow-down time, too. We simply cannot do it all.
Here’s how it works. Pinterest has several lists of daily scripture readings leading up to Christmas. I follow one of those plans (Search “Advent Scripture”). Then I add in an activity (Moms of teens- no eye rolling at this part. Use the term, “activity” lightly. I know we don’t need more activities.) The activities range from what is listed already on the family calendar (like our kids’ holiday music performances in addition to church and charity events) to a cup of peppermint cocoa, or things like “Be a secret angel for someone today (do something unexpectantly nice)” kind of stuff. I’ve placed both a scripture and activity on cards to be read each morning. My cards are craftsy, but that isn’t necessary. Opening something or reading off of the cards each morning while counting down to Christmas is fun! The hardest part is the set-up. After the calendar is set up, all we do is begin following on December 1st. Pinterest and the family calendar do most of the work.
Through the years my kids have helped select things they’d like to add into the calendar from movie nights to receiving decorated Christmas socks at the beginning of the season. We’ve also enjoyed walking through scripture on our trek to the manger while being pleasantly surprised to see what challenge, gift or opportunity awaits us as we read the activity card.
Simple idea that makes the chaos enjoyable.