Saturday, January 5, 2013

Doing Advent Again

I was raised in a faith community that practiced the rhythms of the liturgical calendar.  Over the course of centuries the church... small "c" developed a calendar that allowed followers to experience the journey of redemption in a seasonal and yearly way.  I am way too cynical to accept that the development of the liturgical calendar was developed solely for this good reason.  The seasons too closely shadows festivals and feasts that other faith systems celebrate, but that is not the point of my post today.  I simply state this upfront so that I stay accountable to my resolve not to see my faith system through rose colored glasses.  Anyway... let me get off this low road to chat about what I want to chat about today.

This holiday season really got to be a season where I did things my way for the first time in a solid decade.  No one came down on high to grant me such empowerment... it's just that for years I was doing the dance of "don't ruffle any feathers" and so I bound up my own soul and went through the motions of actualizing some sort of celebration that was acceptable to all of the critics that were watching.  Of course that was a fantasy that was entirely self projected...the critics were the negative tapes in my own head, for I am not nearly "important" enough to have an actual peanut gallery following me and commenting on my every move.

So this year I was grateful to find my way back to a rhythm of preparing for the coming of grace.  Advent is the season right after Thanksgiving and lasts through Christmas Eve and in this age it can be an anchor to keep us grounded in the midst of the commercialization of this holiday.  Christmas has become so out of control that the message is being missed in the noise of too much shopping with money we don’t have, over stuffed social calendars, and unrealistic expectations for friends and family that actually makes connection with the most important people in our lives tense and forced.

I wanted something different for my life and for my children.  So to the drawing board I went...or more specifically to Pinterest and MOPS International I went.  The way our advent went this year was so joyful, fairly simple to execute, and prepared all of us for the arrival of the Prince of Peace once more.  Something I was not anticipating this year with some very tense dynamics in my life and family.

Here’s what worked for us:

* A book a day:  I wrapped 25 holiday books and placed them under our tree labeled with numbers.  The kids got to take turns finding and opening the book of the day.  Then I read the book during dinner or before bed time each day.  Some of the books were holiday favorites we love each year and some were new.  Some were about the Christmas story, some were fun non-religious stories.  This was hands down my favorite new family tradition.

(I feel bad I cannot credit the photographer... I found this on Pinterest and the blog has been removed.  Just the same, it is such a gorgeous picture!  To the photographer... thank you for your creativitiy.)

* Advent Calendar:  I love being a Close To My Heart Consultant, because I get help making items that enhance my family life.  I put candies and our advent symbols with corresponding scripture readings in each box.  I found this great resource from MOPS that helped me out this year.  My kids loved going through the story all month.  I did not use the resource below to it's fullest as my kids are a bit older and I found it like 2 days before advent began.  I've had a request from my son to develop my own program next year.  Little did he know that curriculum writing is something I have a knack for, so if I can get myself together in this next year, I will develop something and share it.  I am grateful to the author and her program.  It enhanced our season so much!

Here is the link to the site for the devotion program I used:

And a picture of the box that I made:

And a link to buy it from my website if you so desire:

My daughter asked me to keep the Christmas decorations up until her birthday...which happens to be Epiphany, which is tomorrow.  I am so happy to accommodate her request because I love this season and want to stretch it as long a possible.  This year I got to savor Advent and the 12 Days of Christmas... grace come down!

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