Preparation For The Season Starts With These Special Family Activities

If you’re like most families, the days after Thanksgiving were busy decorating the house for Christmas, starting some shopping, and making plans for fun December activities for the kids.

But for many of us, we lose sight of the real meaning of the Christmas season in all the hustle and bustle.

This year, why not help your child understand the real meaning of preparing for Christmas?

This year, Advent begins on Sunday, December 2nd – four Sundays prior to Christmas Eve.

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which was a translation from Greek and refers to the Second Coming of Christ.

This time of preparation is focused on the three comings of Christ – once in flesh at his birth celebrated on Christmas Day, Christ’s constant and daily presence in our hearts each day, and the time when He will come in glory at the end of days.

There are many traditions associated with Advent.

Counting down the days until Christmas helps kids foster the anticipation that is so much a part of the month of December, and Mommy Underground has already brought you some great ideas for how you can celebrate.

While our kids are probably most familiar with the little cardboard calendars we buy them with (not so tasty) chocolates inside, there are many more spiritual ways to prepare.

If you’re really looking to focus on Jesus as the reason for this season, we’ve got plenty more meaningful ideas to get them involved and help them really understand the importance of what we are preparing for and celebrating this season.

Pastor and author John Piper shares this simple comparison to help our little ones understand the promise of Christ:

“Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and it’s really her?

This is what Christmas is – Jesus is the real peace and hope in the world.  He shows up whenever we need him – in fact, He is always with us and will never leave us.

Each day, share a story with your children about the promise of Christmas.  These can be books found at the library, quotes or passages you find in the Bible or from sources online.

If your child likes the Wizard of Oz, here’s one example from author Frederick Buechner:

“For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”

Make a special time to discuss each day what your family is looking forward to the next day, or special traditions that are meaningful to them each Christmas season — even what they look forward to in the coming year.

This is preparation and anticipation – what we do as we wait for Christ to come.

Being a Christian also means helping our fellow man and serving Christ in our words and actions each day.

We are saved by His grace, but we are also called to love and serve others.

If you have an Advent calendar with which your kids count down the days until Christmas, make it extra special by adding a note for the day.

The kids can participate in this by writing down (or telling Mom and Dad) something that reminded them of Jesus’ love that day – like a warm blanket or a hug – or they can jot down a good deed that they did for someone else, like, “My sister fell down and I comforted her.”

The idea is to get them thinking of others – and of the selfless and everlasting love that Christ has for us.

More concrete ideas for kids to participate in helping others are to collect canned goods for a local food bank, read stories to children or seniors who are hospitalized, or even leaving a thoughtful note for a neighbor or the mail carrier reminding them of the joy of Christ’s arrival.

The kids will enjoy thinking of small things to do for others each day.  You can even record them in a journal to save for next year, adding photos or drawings with notes about how each special story or activity that day made them feel.

And, of course, there are many concrete activities that you can have the kids do to spark conversation about the importance of this season of preparation.

Do you have a nativity scene in your home?  If so, the little ones can draw a picture for baby Jesus each day and leave it by the manger.

Or, you can find some soft fabric to cut into strips.  Every time your child does something kind in December, they can lay a piece of fabric or straw in the manger.

This is a concrete way to show little ones that everything that we do for others makes Jesus happy – their “scraps of kindness” cushion baby Jesus and keep Him warm.

Advent wreaths are always a great tradition to introduce to your kids.

Instead of purchasing one pre-made, buy an inexpensive wreath and some candles and make your own unique family advent wreath.

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Traditionally, these wreaths have four candles in the ring – one for each Sunday in Advent – as well as one in the center for Christmas Day.

They are often red with a central white Christmas candle, but can also be other colors like purple, which is often the liturgical color seen in church this time of year.

Talk about what the colors symbolize by looking at examples and stories online or in books.

Discuss the meaning of the light – the light that Christ brings into our lives that would otherwise be dark without him, the light that is the promise of His presence each day.

And to kick it up a notch, craft stores sell paints that are specifically made for decorating candles.  Have them try their hand at painting one of the Advent candles with a symbol of the season or something that they think would please Jesus.

If your children are old enough to light the candles with supervision, assign each child or family member one Sunday to light the candle and read a short Advent story, piece of Scripture, or something that they learned about giving to others that day.

Mother Teresa said, “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.” 

While the kids are preparing for Santa, making snowmen and cookies, or decorating the tree, help them with daily reminders about the true promise of Christmas Day.

All of us at Mommy Underground wish you a blessed Advent and Christmas season, full of reminders of Christ’s love and the promises He delivers on each day of the year.

Do you have any special spiritual family traditions for Advent?  Leave us your ideas!