I have to admit, I grew up with a family that put their tree up at the end of November and took it down on Boxing Day or shortly thereafter. We did the whole Santa and Frosty the Snowman thing. We opened LOTS of gifts on Christmas morning and MAYBE went to church if there was time. We bought into the whole commercialism of Christmas. We did focus on family though and I have many wonderful memories of singing Christmas carols and spending time together.
I’m not sure when my mind started to alter but somewhere around the time my third child was born, I felt a shift in my perception. I wanted a deeper connection with “Christmas.” I wanted to delve into the true reason of the season.
I talked to other like-minded families, researched the web, read blogs and immersed myself in the season of advent…the leading up to our Lord’s birth.
I’m not sure when the whole change started; when society turned their focus on Santa and elves and the North Pole and away from Jesus and the manger?! That could be a whole different blog post. I know that society steers clear from mentioning Jesus in any way during this season. My goodness, we can’t even say Merry Christmas to each other as not to offend someone. How ridiculous?!?
I want my children to really feel the spirit Christmas through the birth of Jesus. I want them to have anticipation as Christmas creeps closer as Mary once had when waiting for our Lord. I want to celebrate the feasts and special days dedicated to our faith during the month of December.
5 Ways to focus on Jesus During Advent
- Create a Jesse Tree. A Jesse Tree is a representation of Jesus’ family tree. With ornaments they tell about Jesus’ ancestors and the events leading up to his birth. It’s a great way to delve into the Old Testament. There are many ways to display a Jesse Tree. You can use a small Christmas tree from the dollar store and add homemade ornaments or paper cut-outs. There are numerous websites with printables.
- O Antiphons are a Catholic Advent Tradition. They can be sung or prayed. They are traditionally sung starting 8 days before Christmas starting on December 17th. Each day you call our Lord by a different name and recall a prophecy of the Messiah from Isaiah. Again there are many websites that explain it better and have activities for children to become involved.
- Decorating for Advent. Why not put out symbols of the nativity throughout the house? A simple wooden nativity set displayed on the mantle or perhaps images of our Holy Family instead of Santa and his elves. This year I even tracked down an outdoor inflatable of the nativity. Do you know how hard that was? I searched high and low…from Rona, to Home Depot, to Canadian Tire, to Walmart. I finally found it online at Lowe’s. I even emailed them to thank them for being the only store to carry one…and only one! I knew I could have bought it from Amazon or eBay, but I didn’t want to pay the hefty cost of shipping.
- Prayer time and meditation. This year I plan on having morning prayer before the kids get up during Advent. I bought a small devotional book that has some scripture reading from the Old Testament and then a reading from the Gospel of Luke. I think it’s important to spend time with our Lord everyday but especially during the season of Advent. I know for me it keeps me focused and peaceful during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
- Advent Wreath. My children look forward to the day I pull out the Advent Wreath and they get to light a new candle each week. Our Advent wreath is one that I purchased at a local Catholic store, however there are many variations of the wreath. Some people use branches and holly and leaves from outside to create theirs. Others make theirs out of wood. No matter how you display it, it’s important to explain to your children the significance of each candle and why we light them. For an explanation on the Advent Wreath, visit this website and this one.
Overall, Advent should be a season of contemplation and reflection. It’s a time to wait, ponder and anticipate. How do you mark the season of Advent?