Taking Time to Celebrate Advent
Written by Clayton Greene On December 23rd 2018, we were at our new apartment in Durham when Cara said to us…. “Mommy and Daddy, you say Christmas is about Jesus, but it feels like it is all about presents.”
And who were we to call her wrong? Look at the tree. The pile was growing every day.
That moment felt like a knife in our backs. We knew something had to change but also that we were not the only family having this problem.
Christmas is so special for all of us. Our whole county takes dedicated time to eat, drink, and be merry. What’s not to love? But that day in 2018 we made a commitment to try each year to be more intentional with how we spend the holiday season.
What our family has decided is to build anticipation all month long towards the 25th of December but to make sure all that building momentum is focused, in the end, on Jesus, and not just the presents.
Essentially our idea is this, you don’t have to separate Jesus from all the lights and fun to celebrate His birth. In fact, you can double down on all that momentum to make the most of all the meaningful moments that Christmas brings.
Keep in mind, we are still in the process of learning now to do this each year. Here are a few things we continue to try to capitalize on the experience of Christmas in our city.
We pace through the month.
This means saying no to some good things and saying YES to the best things. You can be scheduled every day of December but that often leads to exhaustion and not focused celebration.
We do what Waypoint is doing.
This is only our second Christmas at Waypoint but we are leaning in! Whatever local church you are at, we think you should celebrate in community. We are joining the choir, decorating, and you better believe we will be lighting candles on Christmas Eve.
We let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving.
This is a little sneaky (and I know that it can be controversial) but letting Christmas start too early in November probably makes it more commercial than we want. For our family, the day after Thanksgiving is a big moment of celebration in and of itself to mark the beginning of the anticipation.
We are intentional with presents.
Sometimes this means fewer presents, sometimes it means more expensive ones. Either way, we try to let the excess presents drift to birthdays rather than tied to Christmas so Christmas can be a little more about Jesus.
We sing all the songs but make sure to include and teach what is happening in the distinctly Christian ones. Use the lyric videos provided on youtube to get your kids in on the action.
And finally, with humility, we do Advent Blocks.
In the backlash of Cara’s infamous 2018 words to us we created a set of blocks that move around during December 1 - 25. It is essentially an Advent calendar with a guide that tells the whole story of the Bible with Christmas as the theme. We have an adult guide that we use, there will be daily reflections on our podcast, and a new board book for the little readers in your family.
If you already have advent traditions, by all means, keep going. Consistency is key. But if you are looking for something new, join our family this year and get a set of Advent Blocks.
We look forward to celebrating with you with candlelight on the 24th.