Thanksgiving is going to be over (Thanksgiving–the holiday, not thanksgiving–the act) in a blink and Advent will be in our sights. Here are some tips for making this a tradition that sticks.
Zeroth tip. The most important tip that comes before all the others is to subscribe to my “Come, Lord Jesus” blog. During the month of December (and only then) daily Advent posts will magically appear in your email and will include everything you need for your celebration (except the snacks).
- Don’t make Advent an add-on to an already busy holiday schedule. Make it a replacement. If you’re already in the habit of having daily family devotions, put them on hold and do the Advent celebration instead. Substitute celebrating Advent for a 1/2 hour of screen time. Scale back on the more stressful elements of the season (you know what those are for your family) and focus on something of lasting value.
- Prepare. If you’re doing the trinkets in the envelopes or jars or whatever, get them all ready by the weekend prior to Advent. If you’re doing the coloring pages from the “What’s In Those Jars” page print them out and bind them or put them in a folder. Make sure you have a plan in place for taking turns opening the envelopes, lighting the candles in the jars, blowing the candles out, reading the passages etc… to avoid unnecessary squabbles.
- Download the songs from the “Advent Music” page links onto a playlist. If you’re planning on singing the hymns/carols together print out song sheets for each family member. I’ve included a page number from Hymns of Grace for most of them and they can be downloaded for 25 cents a song straight from that website.
- Stock a secret Advent “pantry” with treats to serve each day. We have a simple treat (cookies or popcorn and hot chocolate or a candy cane etc…) set out on the table before we even start so the kids can enjoy it as soon as we’re done with the song and reading. We also play the day’s selection from Handel’s Messiah while they’re having their treats.
- Invite your friends and neighbors to join in. We usually do this on the 4 Advent Sundays but it also happens spontaneously at other times. This has been one of our favorite parts of this tradition. Neighbors that would never be open to reading the Bible and singing a hymn are suddenly willing to participate during the holidays. We even had my professors from the Philosophy department at a secular university join us for our Advent celebrations while I was still in school.
- Take Advent on the road. If you’re traveling during the holidays, the daily blog posts have all the music and scripture links included so all you need is your phone. You can even hit the audio icon in the upper left hand corner of the ESV scripture reading links and it will read the passages to you! The coloring books and special Advent road treats can make this a truly memorable time.
- Remember Advent isn’t just about Christ’s first coming. It’s about His second coming. It’s a time to prepare our own hearts and the hearts of our children for that great and awesome day. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!