Advent can all too often sneak up on me unawares, lost in a flurry of winter bugs, nativity plays and endless shopping lists. It's a season I often have wonderful intentions for... but the ideas and traditions are all too often pushed out of the way by events and activities on the calendar that seem more "pressing"...
Over the past six years, we have been gradually creating a family culture in the Advent Season. It has been a slow and steady process, gradually adding one tradition after another over the years in an attempt to draw our eyes away from the frenzied activity and back to that simple stable in Bethlehem. After a particularly manic past two years, I knew this year I needed to take a step back. A lot of the stress and busyness was stemming from me, and so I've pulled out of a couple of annual commitments, and though I'm sad not to be involved, it feels right. Right for me, and for our family.
Instead we've committed to wipe our weekends free this advent season... with the exception of this Saturday (two very good friends of the girls have birthday parties) we intend to spend our weekends preparing our hearts for the coming of the Saviour... we don't intend to pull out of civilization entirely, but instead to centre our family time, whether alone, or with family and friends, on reminding ourselves of the reason for the season, and enjoying this time to really slow down and savour rather than run around in a mad dash.
Of course, we will still have nativity plays, and Christmas shopping, and parties and playdates, but my plan is to organise my time to enable our weekends to be as free as possible.
There are a few resources I have nabbed to help me on my way, and I wanted to share them with you, in case you are in the similar position of wanting to remove the overwhelming nature of December and focus on what really matters.
Treasuring God in Our Traditions
This wonderful book by Noel Piper has been made available for free in PDF version on the Desiring God website. This book was hugely influential in challenging me to really think through our family culture and the establishment of traditions that would be deeply rooted in truth. Intentional parenting and the development of rich traditions is at the heart of this little gem and I would urge anyone raising young children with a heart to show them Christ to read this book while your little ones are still small. I have taken and adapted a lot of our Christmas and Easter traditions straight from this book. It is truly a treasure and such a gift that it has now been made available free of charge!
Advent for Children // Preparing Little Hearts for Christmas
This is a blog post I wrote last year about the traditions we have developed as a family over the past few years. As others have shared ideas and resources with me, and enabled me to really think through what I want my children to gain from the festive season, I want to pass on our ideas and resources to others. There's a lot here - as I said, its been a gradual step by step process over the past six years, but perhaps there may be one or two ideas that will help your family to slow down and savour a meaningful advent this year.
A Slow and Sacred Advent
I purchased this beautiful resource for the first time this year to really help our family savour the advent season this year. To get an idea of what the curriculum actually looks like, you only need to take a look at the hashtag on Instagram. Creative, inspiring and simple but so very rich! We are beginning to work our way through the discussions and activities this weekend.
The One True Gift
I already did a full review of this book on the blog, but its a gem, and honestly, if I want to lead my family through a thoughtful Advent, I need to first have time to reflect and sit at Jesus' feet myself. This book is the perfect little companion to that end...
So there are a few resources that may help you if you, like me, are struggling to see your way through the rush of the pre-Christmas frenzy...
Let's make this Advent about waiting, about expectation, about hope...
about remembering the greatest gift given to mankind.