Santa asks, "What do you want?"
Your friends ask, "What did you get?"
It occurred to me that Claire, having no idea what Christmas is, might be confused if these are the first things she learns about this special holiday. Both of these questions imply that Christmas is about “me”. It startled me to think that we could raise Claire to be self-absorbed and materialistic without even realizing it. It startled me even more to think of how hard I have to try each year to really remember what Christmas is about and not to get caught up in shopping and parties. So, Tony and I talked some more and dreamed up what we would want Christmas to look like for our family as Claire grows up. We want her to know Jesus. We want her to know why He came. We want to spend it as a family. We need our own traditions. We came up with our own plan to reflect and rejoice together, just the three of us.
In the traditional church calendar, Advent is the season to reflect and prepare our hearts for the coming King. I read what I could find about it and came across the Advent Wreath. I loved the idea, but didn’t care so much for the way it looked and couldn’t imagine having this green wreath with pink and purple candles sitting on a table in my home. I know, picky picky! But, hey, if we’re making our own traditions, I want something I can really live with. So, I designed my own.
Each bud vase is filled about half-way with sand to stabilize the candle then wrapped with red ribbon and a tag which tells us which word of the season to reflect on following the traditional Advent Calendar.
Inside our Advent Box, a recycled cigar box, are envelopes with a card inside telling us what we’ll read and which Christmas song relating to the word Tony will sing and play for us on the acoustic guitar.
So, each Sunday evening leading up to Christmas, we’ve incorporated our new tradition into Claire’s bedtime routine. We get our pajamas on, come out into the living room, and she watches while we light the candle. I'll share a short reading, Tony plays a song, we pray and then carry her off to bed.
Above is a close up of the book canvas I made to hang over our Advent display. Inspired by this blog, I chose books I've read that would reflect the heart of the season; My Utmost for His Highest, The Sacred Romance, a Bible and a Hymnal.
This how we've decided to reflect on each week of this Advent Season…
Week 1, Sunday, November 28th
We light the Hope Candle, traditionally the Prophets Candle
We read about the name Immanuel, God with us, and the promise foretold centuries before Christ was born.
We sing O Come O Come Emmanuel. Our current favorite version of this song is by Sufjan Stevens
Week 2, Sunday, December 5th
We light the Love Candle, traditionally the Bethlehem Candle
We read about Jesus as a Child, born in a manger.
We sing O Little Town of Bethlehem. Our current favorite version of this song is by Sarah McLachlan.
Week 3, Sunday, December 12th
We light the Joy Candle, traditionally the Shepherds Candle
We read about the shepherds from Luke 2:8-20.
We sing O Come all Ye Faithful. Our current favorite version of this song is by Chris Tomlin.
Week 4, Sunday, December 19th
We’ll light the Peace Candle, traditionally the Angels Candle
We’ll read about Jesus as the Prince of Peace, as the Angels declared in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will toward men.”
We’ll sing O Holy Night. Our current favorite version of this song is by Michael Crawford.
Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24th
We’ll light the Noel Candle, traditionally the Christ Candle
We’ll read about Mary and the birth of Jesus from Luke 1:26 – 2:20
We’ll sing Silent Night. Our current favorite version of this song is by Phil Wickham (Thanks, Tyler!).
Our hope is that as she gets older we can add crafts and fun activities or maybe even a special meal each week that will help build these memories for us. This way we’ll have weeks of reflection before the glorious morning when she wakes us up at 5am, like we did to our parents, to open up all of the presents under the tree.
We'd love to hear the wonderful ways you've made this holiday special with your families!