christmas traditions: celebrating advent
I've been feeling for some time now that Christmas for our family has become quite commercialized. Over the years we've gradually (and unconsciously) taken (most of) the Christ out of Christmas. With an advent calendar full of fun activities from ice skating, holiday theatre performances, Christmas movie watching, and a special playlist with our favorite songs.. which all makes for great bonding, and togetherness and quality family time that we will certainly cherish and remember. But what I really want my children (and myself) to remember even more is the real "reason for the season" (I know cliche'). Its funny, I remember before we had children we swore to never even mention the name Santa Claus in our home. Some jolly, chubby, guy dropping off toys.. Absolutely not in our home!! "Our children will know that mommy and daddy work hard and provide the gifts that we are so grateful (to God) for..." HAAAA! That very next year, we were out sprinkling "reindeer food" that we had specially prepared (as part of our new holiday tradition) in the front yard with our new toddler. Pics with Santa, Elf on The Shelf, Check and Check! All the magical feels from seeing that look in their eyes was (and is) all too much to resist. And I'm not saying that we will give up those things. But rather, attempt to not have them over shadow Christmas being about the birth of Christ.
I'll admit I've always been a little jealous of the Catholic and Jewish religions orphic and steep rituals, traditions, and celebrations. And moving forward, I am determined to prioritize celebrating Christmas in a way that reflects our religious and spiritual beliefs.
First the first time this year we are recognizing Christmas Advent. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays. The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit," begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.
This year I put together a little Advent wreath. My parents were in town the first Sunday of Advent and we started by lighting a candle and writing letters to people that we love. I'm pretty sure we did the virtues out of order but the sentiment is still the same. During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Yesterday we lit the second candle after dinner and worked on paper star ornaments to symbolize the North Star and the anticipation of Christ.
I'm fumbling my way through this first time. But the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.We are spending time talking about the Birth of Jesus and scripture and it feels good and special, and right.
It's certainly a good start.
What special ways do you celebrate Christmas and your faith? Looking forward to expanding on this tradition with my family in the coming years.