Our conversation around the dinner table took a fast turn when we asked our five-year-old a simple question, “What is Christmas really about?” His answer left us speechless, with eyes wide, and almost undone.
“Presents, of course.”
We thought with the time spent in church and what we have taught at home that the true meaning of Christmas would be at the forefront of his thoughts about the season. He found the gifts under the tree more appealing than the greatest gift given to humanity, Jesus.
I walked away from the table with a heaviness on my heart, how can I teach my kids continuously what Christmas is really about? I want them to see it for more than what the world tells them the holiday means.
I desire for them to seek selflessness more than selfishness, especially at Christmas.
Every time I was brought back to the tradition of Advent. Something I have participated in personally to keep my heart aligned during a season that can truly make me feel out of sorts. I stick to a Bible reading plan, study, or spiritual practice that centers around the meaning of Christmas.
Maybe Advent is a time you look forward to as well, or perhaps it is not a spiritual practice that you have put into place. Either way, it is a way to help our children move past a world view of the season and focus on a biblical one.
There are five ways that I have implemented the tradition of Advent in our home with our children. Each one is simple enough that any family can begin using them this Christmas season.
1. Always begin with the Nativity.
Every year right after Thanksgiving before we put up the tree or any other decorations, we pull out the Nativity. We talk about each piece before we place them in their spot from the wise men who came to worship the King of Kings, to the lowly shepherds. We talk about the picture it paints for us of the Gospel – that Christ came for all people. Then Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, tucked inside the Nativity. Last, but of course, not least baby Jesus at the center of it all, the reason for Advent – our hope.
2. Keep the focus on giving rather than list-making.
No sooner than a whiff of the holiday is in the air do my kids begin making their gift lists and checking them twice. Filling it to the brim with things they do not need but wants galore, most of which we could never begin to afford. Rather than making lists, we listen to things that they mention throughout the year and share that with friends and family in our way. To shift their busy minds on to how we can give to others, we get them involved in local toy and food drives to help those who are in need. I love watching their faces light up as they serve others; they see the joy that comes in giving.
3. Make an Advent calendar centered around service.
Everyone knows about the chocolate-filled Advent calendars that count down the days until Christmas. We create a calendar with the help of the kids, and we come up with service ideas like serving in a food pantry, toy drive, soup kitchen, helping our neighbors, or serving in the church during the season. Have your kids help you come up with great ideas that you can do together.
4. Use daily Scripture cards to keep hearts focused on the Word.
Write the Christmas story from the Bible on twenty-five index cards, a few verses per card, or purchase some online. Each evening as you gather around the dinner table, read through the verses on the card and talk about the Christmas story together.
5. Lead by example.
We can make grand plans to help our kids build the tradition of Advent, but it is best when we are leading by example and doing the things that we have asked of them. Grab an Advent study that inspires your heart to seek more of Jesus in this season, slow your pace, and enjoy what Advent has to offer.
Christmas is a beautiful season filled with hope and light, let us be women who share it not just with our children but with others around us. Begin a tradition this year of instilling the tradition of Advent in your children.