The day-light hours are diminishing and the black nights cover the bare trees as the temperature drops and the frost appears. We precede the beginning of the season of winter and embark upon the season of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of preparing and anticipating the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, it sure is easy to lose sight of the real reason that we are celebrating the holiday of Christmas. With all of the many cultures and various religious groups who live together in our land we find it easier at this time of year to say “Happy Holidays” so that we won’t offend anyone. We get so caught up in the buying of gifts, the holiday parties, the special shows, the decorations, tantalizing foods, and gathering together with family and friends. We easily forget about that babe in the manger, who was born to set us free from sin and death.
Therefore I wanted to remind us of this Advent season, so that we can all joyfully prepare for the birth of the King. In her blog, Being Confident of This, Jen shared the idea that she learned about from a fellow blogger named Lana, who developed the Christmas Adventure Box for a Kid-Friendly Advent experience for her family. The idea of the box is to use the ideas in the box daily or several times weekly to help the family remember the Greatest Gift of All, Jesus. This family Advent plan takes literally less than an hour to organize and the activities take as little as 5 minutes or as long as 20-30 minutes, depending on how involved you wish to make it. When I read about this idea, I was all thumbs up!!
Here is the link to find out about how you can implement the Christmas Adventure Box in your family traditions.
Ann Voskamp, a noted Christian author and blogger, recently wrote in a post on her blog that one of her children asked her a poignant question as she was tucking him in for bed one night, “What does Jesus get for his birthday?” The question stopped her in the midst of her nightly duties and the words hung in the air. She groped for an answer. Her son continued: “Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?” She thought, is it always this way that a little child will lead them? Her son was only 5 at that time. He is 17 now. She states that since that time her family has done all Christmases since this way- giving away. For the Birthday Child tells us what He wants: Give to the least of these is giving to Me. So, for her family, they each choose one gift for He who is Christmas. They pick gifts from Compassion Catalog, Samaritan’s Purse, and World Vision. They give to the least of these. For their family that is the same as giving to Jesus. If you would like to contribute to these charities, their websites are listed below:
- Compassion Catalog- http://www.compassion.com/catalog.htm
- Samaritans Purse Catalog- https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog
- World Vision Catalog- http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML
Some of the ladies in my church have come up with a unique way of helping the less fortunate in our neighborhoods. We have the homeless who are often at our stoplights or at some of our well-traveled areas. As a result,the ladies and some of our small groups have made bags that we can carry in our cars to hand out to the homeless that we come across in our community. The bags are quart-sized zip-lock bags. They are filled with the following items that our children can help us with:
- snack packs of peanut-butter crackers
- flip-top cans of “Beanie-Weenies” or “Vienna Sausages”
- toothbrush and small toothpaste
- small hand lotion
- packets of hand sanitizer
- hand warmers
- small soap
- pair of socks
- A message that tells them that God loves them.
For Christmas we could even add a candy cane or some Christmas cookies. What a wonderful way of reaching out to the least of these!
Another post that I discovered listed 50 Acts of Kindness by Kids for Advent. I am going to list some of my favorites. They were from the blog: Mum in the Madhouse.
- Donate a coat to charity leaving a happy note in the pocket.
- Donate to the local or church food bank
- Make Christmas cards for your neighbors, especially ones you may not know.
- Leave change in the vending machine.
- Sort through your toys and donate those you no longer play with to charity.
- Sharpen the pencils in your house.
- Write a letter to your sibling telling them why you love them.
- Leave a beautiful homemade bookmark in your library book and give one to the librarian.
- Deliver cookies to your neighbor.
- Clean up your bedroom without being asked.
- Send thank you notes to houses with beautiful lights thanking them for lighting up their houses.
- Sit next to someone you don’t normally sit next to at lunch and be nice to them.
- Make a bird feeder and leave out water for birds.
- Send a care package to someone in the military.
- Choose 3 of your toys to give to children in local hospitals
- Pass on some of your books to friends or donate them to your school library.
- Write thank you notes to your teachers, coaches, and people who have influenced you.
- Help an elderly neighbor or friend with their yard or decorations.
- Give a compliment to someone today.
- Give out free hugs today.
- Hold the doors open for people throughout the day.
- Smile all day.
- Let someone go in front of you in line.
- Introduce yourself to someone new and chat with them.
It brought me gladness in writing each of these acts of kindness on my computer. Implementing these acts in your life would put a smile on your face and the face of the person you were being kind to. Just try them and see!
I discovered another post on my quest for ideas for Advent. I found 25 Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions on a blog entitled, Prac Perfeccionista. Here are some of my favorites:
- Set out a child-friendly Nativity set for play.
- Buy Nativity cookie cutters to use for baking cookies.
- Make puppets and re-enact the Christmas story.
- Make a paper chain to count down the days until Christmas with a Bible verse on each link.
- Instead of a gingerbread house, make a Nativity.
- Make an Advent wreath and light the candles each night together and read the Bible preparing for the coming of the King.
- Attend a Christmas church service together.
- Make an Advent calendar- instead of using candy, insert papers with ways you can serve someone each day.
- Read Christ-centered Christmas books during the Advent season.
- Make and use a Jesse tree during Advent.
- Cook Christmas recipes from different countries and pray for the people of these countries to come to know Christ.
- Participate in an Angel Tree project.
- When hanging Christmas lights, talk about Jesus being the “light of the world”.
- Read the Christmas story together on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.
- Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing “Happy Birthday Jesus” on Christmas Day.
- Go to a Christmas Eve service and attend church on Christmas Day.
One of my most treasured family traditions that we began after the grandchildren were born was that of re-enacting the Christmas story in a family Christmas play where we all participated. We borrowed costumes from our church, and I found a script on-line, where we could all be characters. Of course there was Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, the wise men, an angel, and of course, the donkey. Then we had a narrator who told the story and a person who was a character and also video-taping the play, so that we could view it later. We have had so much enjoyment participating in the play as a family. The grandchildren have learned the story, while having fun with their cousins playing various roles throughout the years.
My final favorite Advent activity is that of going caroling. I love to sing, especially Christmas carols. I will have to admit that there is nothing as gratifying as going into a nursing home and visiting the elderly who are lonely and often grieving for the loved ones who have passed away before them, and seeing their entire demeanor change as they hear “Silent Night” being sung. They usually begin singing, with tears streaming down their faces and joy radiates from their eyes as they listen to the melody of the carol. As we visit with the people you can sense that God used you to truly brighten another person’s day. What a blessing!
I will end my post with 12 Christmas Prayers from Dwellar.
- FAITH-“Father God, It is by Your grace we have been saved, and through our faith- this is not from ourselves, but a gift from You- not by our works.” Ephesians 2:8-9
- HOPE-“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in Hope.” Romans 15:4
- LOVE- “Help us to love because You first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
- FORGIVENESS- “Thank you for being faithful and just in forgiving us our sins and thus purifying us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
- MERCY- “Let us be merciful, just as our Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36
- KINDNESS-“Let us be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as through Jesus, You forgave us.” Ephesians 4:32
- GENEROSITY- “Let us be enriched in every way to be generous in every way and to give the glory and thanks to you Lord!” 2 Corinthians 9:11
- COMPASSION-“Let us live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic and compassionate, love as brothers, and be humble.” 1Peter 3:8
- JOY- “Let us be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
- SALVATION- “Thank you for providing Jesus who is the way, the truth, the life and the only way to You.” John 14:5
- OBEDIENCE- “Help us to not merely listen to Your Word, and so deceive ourselves. Help us do what it says.” James 1:22-25
- LIFE- “Thank you for coming that we may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
It is my desire that you and all of your loved ones will have a very Merry Christmas.
May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,