Last week, the Advent decorations came out in preparation for the Christmas countdown. I love this Christmas season... I love preparing my heart for the big day, because there's been too many times its crept up on me and I've been totally unprepared. Not just in terms of the shopping, and the food... but most importantly in terms of remembering what its really all about. As the girls grow, I want their memories of Christmas to be more than magical. I want them to be based in reality... in understanding what happened just over 2000 years ago, and in understanding why that is something truly worth celebrating. These 24 days in the run up to Christmas are an opportunity for us to fester an excitement in our girls - not about sleigh bells or Santa or snow (although those things are extremely exciting - even at 28!) but about remembering the arrival of a baby King who would shake the world forever.
So let's go... over the next few days I'm going to be sharing some of our Advent traditions; not because I think we do it right, or our way is the only way, but just in case you find yourself in the position I did two years ago of asking; "How do I point my little ones to the real meaning of Christmas?"
This question has resulted in us establishing some family traditions that I am growing to love, but I am so open to more suggestions. We are very much still growing in this area, so please wing your family traditions my way!!
One of our favourite traditions that I picked up when I lived in Austria is the good old "Adventskranz" or "Advent Wreath"... Traditionally its a fir laden wreath with four candles fixed into it. In the four weeks running up to Christmas, a candle is lit: one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so on... There are lots of interpretations of the significance of each of he candles, but we like to keep things simple round here: each flame reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world, and the gradual lighting of the candles creates a very tangible "countdown" for the girls.
So yesterday we lit our first advent candle, reading the first part if the Christmas Story in the girls children's bible, and thus the countdown for us has begun!
This year I've been a bit controversial and placed our candles in a row, rather than on a wreath, but its nice to shake things up a bit!!
What countdown traditions to you have?