• Faith,  Family,  Parenting

    A Simple Advent

    Long-time readers of mine will know that I love, love, love Christmas.  While I’m not quite Buddy from ‘Elf’, I I enjoy Christmas as much as my children do, only I’m not motivated by presents.  It’s not just the day itself, but all the little things spread throughout December that add to my sense of anticipation and joy.

    Things like decorating the tree, prepping the advent calendar for my kids, singing Christmas carols, making gifts – and my all-time favourite, looking at the Christmas lights.  

    I also enjoy revisiting the story of Jesus’ birth.  The weird, fantastical, miraculous birth that changed everything.

    As evident in the shops where the nativity is all but swept away in a tsunami of Santas, reindeer, and elves, it can be difficult for Christians to find time for quiet contemplation in a culture that tells us to shop ’til we drop; and that we absolutely MUST end the year with some sort of Christmas party if you are a part of any sort of group at all. 

    Terrible things will happen if we don’t have a Christmas work do!  The world will cease to exist if Little Johnny doesn’t get to sit on Santa’s knee at his third Crimbo party of the season!  Have you even lived if you haven’t handmade your own ugly Christmas sweater?  

    I go on about this every year.  I’m essentially Gollum at Christmas time:  I loves it, and I hates it.  It is a deeply meaningful religious celebration for me, and I hate what it has become in my culture.

    This year I have gone into Advent even more mindfully than before.

    This is our first Christmas as a ministry family.

    While you and your kin are enjoying a leisurely day, my husband will be conducting two services on Christmas Day, and is expected to put in an appearance at a combined church Christmas Eve service.  We’re also supporting friends who are hosting a community lunch for locals here in Point.  We will have family staying with us.  Christmas Day will be anything but quiet.

    Knowing this, I am more careful than usual with what I say YES to.  Mr G was away at his studies when we put up the tree and danced like lunatics to carols (The upbeat ones, obviously.  One cannot boogie to Silent Night).

    He missed out on the excitement on our children’s faces as they came down to breakfast and saw our Advent Calendar was up and ready.

    Actually, our kids are lucky – they get two advent calendars this year.  The one above was made by me a few years back.  The children get a chocolate and a piece of paper with something they will do that day – which is always stuff we would do anyway: like choosing things to donate, making a gift for their teacher etc.

    Normally we wold keep things simple with one calendar, but then we found this beauty put out by @home&church.org.nz this year.  We gave one to all our Sunday school families, and I hope they are enjoying it as much as we are.

    The Advent Tree by @home&church.org.nz

    The detail is incredible, the characters friendly-looking, and it includes simple devotions the whole family can do together.  What could be more simple for harried parents?  Made from thick cardboard, this will be a family taonga for many years to come.  You can buy them at The Warehouse, but the trees are all sold out on the @home&church.org website.

    I myself, start off the day with a short devotional, snatching a few minutes of quiet time to think and pray.

    Prior to Advent my kids (and Sunday school) made these simple Advent Candle wreaths I found on Pinterest.  Even a group of older boys took time and care making theirs.  Each Sunday in Advent they flip a flame up to light the candle of peace etc.  You can find them here.

    We’ve been to see The Grinch at the movies, and believe it or not, a real family highlight has been the four of us watching the Christmas season of Nailed It on Netflix!  

    Still to come is going to see a pantomime, and driving around to see the lights.

    As the ‘Minister’s Wife’ I have repeatedly had several church people come up to me and say ‘we should do x event for Christmas’ and try and leave it with me!  Nuh-uh.  I’m always happy to support events, but if people really want to do something, they need to make it happen, not me.

    Simple Advent.  Say yes to the things that bring you joy, and biff all the rest.

    Wishing you a very merry – and hopefully peaceful – Christmas.