Sunday, December 2, 2007


Here's our advent calendar this year:

24 "stockings" I have filled with little cards with activities written on them for us to do as a family in preparation for Christmas. Some of the socks have little surprises or treats to go along with the activity. Some cards are silly, fun activities like building a fort to read Christmas stories in or having a green or a red day where we wear all of that color and eat only that color foods, and some are more "in the spirit of Christmas" stuff like taking toys to children's shelters or driving around looking at Christmas lights.
In yesterday's 1st "stocking" we found this:

which gave us this:

Yes, even Ryan joined in the pedicures... it took a little coaxing (or a lot!)... it helped that Sawyer kept referring to the green toes as "Shrek!" while I was painting them! lol!

I'm thinking we're going to make this sock thing a tradition every year, but I'm going to change it up each year, some years making it more fun and simply holidayish, and then some years putting more of an intentional advent focus on what Christmas is really all about. I wanted to do more of that this year, but I feel like the kids just don't quite get it yet. We do plenty to teach them the Christmas story, we read it, we talk about it, we pray about it all throughout the season... and I sort of ran out of the time it would take to do the advent stuff like I would want to with kids this young; to take it to their level and really get them involved in it. It seems as if neither of them can sit still for more than two seconds at this point, so I really didn't want to frustrate myself. I have big plans for years to come though. I think it'll be fun to have the same tradition, but mix it up a little each year. Next year I'm going to put this in the socks and build this puzzle one day at a time, reading bible verses and talking more about the gift of Christ and what that means for us each day.

I've really been thinking and praying a lot about the Christmas season this year. I've been feeling the tug to be much more attentive to what makes up this season of celebration. More of what we put into it, I guess. I'm realizing more and more that it shouldn't just be about the day of Christ's birth. For example, when I hear the words Advent, Christmas and Epiphany together, I always tend to think of the more traditional or liturgical churches that observe those three seasons more religiously. I've decided I want to make it more than that in our family's experience of the holiday season.

The season of Advent is about waiting, about preparation, about quiet and mystery and reflection on what is to come.
Christmas itself is a celebration of God, the giving of Himself, His only son, incarnate, now accessible among the world.
Epiphany is the visit of the Magi, Jesus' baptism, and the start of the world learning about Him.
I want to really break it down and experience every part of this season. I think these three events of the "church year" can be an incredible rhythm for our life at a time of year that can so easily be hectic and full of stress or frustrations.

I love what is known as the season of the Advent; techinically the four weeks preceding the celebration of Christmas. Advent is the season of true anticipation; preparing our hears and our lives for honoring the birth of our Saviour. We are getting ready to celebrate! We're making and buying gifts, baking good things, anticipating seeing family and friends, enjoying parties. Recognizing the Advent can help us quiet ourselves for a few moments to think about and truly enjoy these days. I like the thought of that.

What I want to be more aware of, is the fact that Christmas actually starts on December 25th. Did you ever stop to think about that? The season of Christmas actually begins at midnight on Christmas morning and lasts until January 5th, the 12th day of Christmas (you know, as in the 12 Days of Christmas we all know!). Then Epiphany starts with the visit of the Magi on January 6th.

I've always in the back of my mind thought it odd that there's all this build up for Christmas Day, the day of celebrating Christ's birth, and then just like that, it's all over, nice to see you baby Jesus, thanks for coming, now let's pack up our stuff and go back to life as normal. Isn't that kind of how it is? There are trees to take down, decorations to put away, presents to return and we do it just like that.
This year I want to celebrate Christmas. For longer than just one day. After all the hype and all the busyness and all the fun of gearing up for the holiday, once it gets here, I just want to revel in it's beauty for awhile. I want to revel in the beauty of that baby Jesus and take time to reflect on these things we've spent weeks doing in celebration.
I want to continue the celebration in small ways throughout the 12 days of Christmas. To leave the Christmas decorations up and the nativity scene in place. To keep reading Christmas stories and to enjoy Christmas cookies and music. To bring gifts to neighbors and friends, rather than rushing to get everything done before December 25th.

In doing some reading for verses of the Christmas story to go along with Advent stuff and to possibly add to our "stockings" countdown, this one verse kept drawing my attention. It comes after the angel had appeared to the shepherds, after they saw the baby and they left to tell everyone about this amazing miracle... after all of this was winding down... Luke Chapter 2 verse 19 says:
"And Mary kept all these things like a treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over..."
I just love the thought of that. I want to dwell on those things also, the happenings of that night and the vastness of God's plan. I want to keep these things treasured in my heart. And I know that I do all year long... it's just I want to make sure I take the time for it to be an extra special treasure during this season.


Mom/GrammaG said...

Great looking"advent" stockings,but the red & green toes are even cuter!!

Christina said...

What a very cute advent idea. I love it! You are so very creative Heather. Now, I want to see what each day holds. :)

Dan said...

You have such creative ideas!!! Could I borrow your brain for a few weeks?
I appreciate your thoughts on Christmas, Advent and the Epiphany too. :)


Annie said...

Heather, you should write a book of ideas to make meaningful holidays/regular days with your kids. I think it'd be a hit. :)

Janel said...

I love reading through your family site! What fun:-) I just pray that God gives me an ounce of the creativity that you have when Who's It Harris comes...6 weeks (or so) and counting! We will keep you posted!

David R. said...

Cool! Amie and I just ordered our very own South Park nativity puzzle from your link. Our comes with a free "Baby Kenny" to be in a manger.

jessica said...

I love that idea. Very fun for the kids. I know mine would love that, but I'm never so organized as to have it going by DECEMBER 1. Lucky family you have.

Mom said...

I would also like to continue celebrating Gods' gift beyond the 25th. It's going to take a lot of effort though. There is that big emotional let down.Have to get the right mind(and heart)set. I think the tree will come down though :),since we got it so early.)I hope you guys can step out in faith and find the right place to worship very soon.

Amy said...

love this idea.

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