So we’re less than a week out from Thanksgiving. I’m a stickler for not even mentioning the Christmas tree until we have appropriately celebrated Thanksgiving to it’s fullest- it remains one of my favorite weekends all year long.
But since we started celebrating the Advent season about seven or eight years ago, I have to at least be thinking a little ahead, since the season always begins shortly after Thanksgiving.
If you’ve never really celebrated Advent, don’t stress. I didn’t really understand anything about it until several years ago. As we remind our kids each year, “Advent” means “the Coming” – and of course what we’re talking about here is the coming of Jesus Christ – the sole reason we celebrate Christmas.
The season of Advent helps us get our hearts and minds into a joyful expectation for Jesus.
So, there’s a lot out there as far as what you can use during this time to make it fun and meaningful for your family. But I gotta be honest – for us it just works really well to simply stick with what we know. I’m often tempted to get on a bunch of blogs I really like and see what’s new or what everyone else is doing… not to even mention Pinterest… but if I’m not careful I’ll get bigger ideas than what we can really attain right now, and I’ll end up making it stressful and hectic – which is the exact opposite of the atmosphere we want in our home during Christmastime.
We found a few things years ago that remain meaningful and traditional in our home – so let me share them with you:
- The Jotham’s Journey Series
This is a series of Advent books written by Arnold Ytreeide. There are four books (Tabitha’s Travels is not shown above), and truly you can go in any order. You read one book per year, and each story is about a young boy or girl who has some kind of adventure (sometimes perilous or dangerous) and in the journey, the main character ends up hearing about the coming Messiah… and I won’t tell you what happens Each story stands alone but each story is also interwoven into the others.
Our family has LOVED these books. Since you read a different one each year, it will be years before you will repeat a story, and it’s always just as enjoyable as the first time you read it. The book is broken down into sections to be read aloud each evening leading up to Christmas Eve. Even our younger children enjoy listening (Jeff and I often want to read ahead), and we’re always sad it’s over at the end.
Last Advent we read the new book that Ytreeide had just released, “Ishtar’s Odyssey” and it didn’t disappoint. We read by candlelight around the table each evening. At one point during the story, Ishtar enjoys some baklava. The next day we happened upon a package of the yummy treat at Sam’s and brought it home so we could all enjoy some baklava during the next evening’s reading. Our kids are still talking about it. Our older kids ask to get these books off the shelf all year long, but we make everyone wait until Advent.
- Getting Ready For Christmas
It looks like this one isn’t available on Amazon, except as a used book from other sellers. Bummer. But if you can get it on time, and you have very small children, we found this to be a great beginning to celebrating Advent. We first used this when Maggie and Lilly were ages 2 and 3 (and still have some of the sweet little homemade ornaments they made while going through this book). And this year I’ll be using it with Olivia (4) and Carson (6)… and hopefully with Jessa in a few years.
Each day leading up to Advent, there are simple pictures, a short reading, and a verse. Each day also offers something to do with your child. Some days it’s helping them with a homemade ornament; other days, it’s as simple as looking at the stars outside.
This book is one our little ones have really enjoyed going through with us, and it’s a very stress-free way to begin celebrating Advent. And this is a way for me to spend some quality time with my younger kids during the day during Advent season. However, there are some readings in this book where I have to add a bit when talking with my kids in order to connect it to Jesus coming. So just be aware of that.
These books, which we purchased years ago, along with candles, and sometimes desserts or hot cocoa are all we need to keep Advent season simple, memorable, and most of all, meaningful.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing for Advent this year, or how you keep Christmastime meaningful for your family. Tell me in the comments. I promise not to compare!
Here’s some pics from Advent over the years… eek, they were so little!