Each year as advent approaches, we try to be purposeful as a family to make space to celebrate God breaking into our world and anticipating him coming again to make all things right. It's so easy to fill up our calendars and our hearts this season with busyness and unrealistic expectations. With hope misplaced in perfect decorations, ideal gifts, and trying to create flawless memories, we lose what really matters.
Although I love all the season brings with cozy fires, hot chocolate, lights twinkling, and time with family, I want our family to remember why we exchange gifts. Why we celebrate. And why our hope isn't in a beautifully decorated home or the gifts on our wish lists.
Advent didn't start in a stable. It started in a garden thousands of years before. And rehearsing the truth of God's grand redemption plan is a good (and needed) way to center our hearts this season. Here's a compilation of what our family has done through the years (since the kids were toddlers) up until now. Each one has a link with more details and resources.
This year we're doing Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift again. Not only is the book incredibly beautiful, but it's rich with gospel truths. Since the kids are older now (eight and ten) they're a good age to focus more on the story and have significant discussions about what advent and anticipation means to our family daily. Starting tomorrow, we'll be taking more time around the dinner table each night to go through the book.
We've also loved celebrating advent with our much beloved The Jesus Storybook Bible. This is a favorite book in our home and I love how every single story points to Jesus. Reading through it snuggled up together each night is a sweet way to tie God's plan to send Jesus to a hurting and broken world and come back to make all things new together for little (and not so little) hearts.
And when the kids were little, we celebrated with a Jesse Tree for several years. Each night they unwrapped an ornament to hang (or found it hidden in the house) that represented a different part of God's redemption story. It was fun to watch them make the connections to the prophecies in the Old Testament and a little baby born in Bethlehem as they hung each wooden ornament on our little Jesse Tree.
Here's a few other ways we've tried to be intentional (and fun) at Christmas...