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How We Celebrate Advent

2010 December 1
by Pamela

We don’t make much of Santa around here.  In fact, we don’t make anything of him.  Our reasoning is pretty simple:  we think celebrating the birth of our Savior who was born over 2,000 years ago is magical enough.  There is no need to add anything to the excitement and mystery of Christmas.  We don’t need to lie to our children about a fat old man who brings good kids gifts through a chimney while they are sleeping.

Jesus is enough.

But I also have this thing…. I don’t like “taking anything away” from our girls without making certain that we provide something that is even better.

Two years ago we started celebrating the Advent season with Mary Claire for that very reason.  It didn’t start out very spiritual.  It was just a fun way to count down to Christmas day.  I bought this advent calendar and would stuff the pockets with a little piece of candy, letting her move the star each day. 

Now that she’s getting older, I am trying to be more intentional about teaching her what all the hoopla about Christmas really is.  And frankly, we also use the Advent calendar to counteract the influences she receives about Christmas.  It’s used to teach our girls what Christmas is and what Christmas is not.

This year I spent some time in prayer and preparation with the calendar before putting it up.  I started out with a regular calendar and wrote down things that were already on their schedule for the month.  The girls are making scarves in their Sunday School class (thanks Pat and Karina for coordinating this!) to give to a homeless shelter so I used a post it note to write that down and stuffed it into the appropriate day.  Likewise they will be having a co-op Christmas party, so I added that into a pocket.  They are also supposed to bring in money to church every Sunday which will be given to foreign missionaries.  So there are pockets with notes in them saying “Do something today to earn $1 so kids around the world can hear about God’s love for them”. 

With each thing there is an opportunity for brief discussion about our sharing God’s love by serving and giving to others.

We have ten different books that tell the story of Jesus’ birth, so in ten different pockets interspersed throughout the month I have post-it notes with a piece of candy and a note for them to enjoy the story of Jesus’ birth with us.

Finally we have pockets that are purely fun.  Some are stuffed with stickers, some with candy, two have notes for a scavenger hunt where they will “hunt” for their Christmas dresses and aprons.  There are notes for days they will make cookies with their Grandmas, decorate a gingerbread house, and shop for gifts. 

There are also notes with the word “stocking” on them.  They will be able to pull a small gift from their stocking and open it on those days.

To plan, I pulled some of their Harvest party candy right away, which meant I didn’t have to buy more.  I also hit the dollar racks at Target and Michael’s starting in November to pick up small items for them.

What I like about the pockets are the notes can be easily moved.  I don’t know what day they will be making cookies yet, but when I do I can insert that note into the date.  Next time I will buy one with bigger pockets though since some of those are a challenge to get anything in. 

This definitely took some planning on my part, but the anticipation the girls have for the Advent calendar is important to me.  We are using it to intentionally point our girls to the joy of Jesus’ birthday and that is worth the effort.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Dawnell Prescott permalink
    December 1, 2010

    Thanks pam I really really love that idea. This sounds like something I really could get into. The candy in pockets is ok but never pushed my button. This is great!

  2. Carrie Harrison permalink
    December 2, 2010

    This is such a great tool you are using to teach the girls about the true meaning of Christmas. Jason and I decided when we started our family that we were not going to push the Santa season either. It is nice to see how you are doing it. Carson is still a little young to understand what is happening but I thought of doing something like this with an advent calendar next year. Thanks so much for sharing this… it was very encouraging. We were asked about the whole Santa “situation” as they called it since we did not celebrate Halloween either. When we tried to explain why we did not find value in Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc their eyes were bulging out. It makes you question again if you are actually making the right choice. After thinking about it I know that we are. Like you said Jesus is enough and everything that He has done for us should be “magical” enough. Wonderful blog.

  3. December 2, 2010

    Thanks for sharing! I’m not crazy about Santa either.

    We love the Jesus Storybook Bible…no joke, sometimes I get teary reading it to the boys at night. It is so well-written.

    • Pamela permalink*
      December 2, 2010

      My girlfriend just told me her husband found an Advent schedule of readings for children using the Jesus Storybook Bible.

  4. Lee Harrison permalink
    December 3, 2010

    Five Stars! You are doing a wonderful job of planning to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas. We did not celebrate Santa with our kids either.

  5. Stefanie permalink
    December 5, 2010

    In my home country we don’t have Santa at Christmas, but we celebrate the Christ Child (Christkind). We celebrate St. Nikolaus on December 6th. Some people from my parish dress up as St. Nikolaus and visit children and read and pray with them. However, Santa is now being used for commercial reasons and many people are upset because it takes away from the focus on Jesus, like you said. I used to make Advent calendars similar to yours back home.

  6. Jenny permalink
    December 13, 2010

    Great idea Pamela. You’re a wonderful mother.

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