More than a Countdown to Christmas

How to help your kids celebrate the Advent season

Two years ago, while strolling through a department store during the middle of back-to-school season, I was shocked to stumble upon an aisle of freshly stocked Christmas décor. Like many of you likely would, I nearly rolled my eyes out of my head at the dangling candy cane cutouts swinging above my head 130 days before Christmas.

The older I get, the more distaste I have for a retail season that gets longer and longer. And the more I mourn how somehow, invertly, it seems like the actual time it takes growing kids to tear all the wrapping paper off their presents gets shorter and shorter. If we’re not intentional, Christmas can be over in about 18 seconds.

If we’re not intentional, Christmas can be over in about 18 seconds.

Advent isn’t new, it isn’t trendy, and it’s been around for . . . well, a couple thousand years now. But if you attend church in many Protestant denominations, there might not be a big emphasis on this four-week season of remembrance that leads up to Christmas. Advent comes from the word adventus, which means “coming.” Hence, it is the time of year when we remember how the Jews longed for a Messiah.

Fortunately, there are many Advent traditions you can begin with your children to lengthen the time your family spends remembering Jesus in this special stage of the Christian calendar. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Let your outdoor nativity figures go on a journey. Do you have a lighted manger scene in your yard? When you set it up, position the shepherds and the wise men far across the yard from the stable. Then, each day, as Jesus’ birth approaches, move them just a little bit closer until they reach the manger on Christmas day. While this doesn’t necessarily follow a strict biblical interpretation, it emphasizes to your children the journey the wise men took.

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May 25

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