“Dear Heavenly Father,
… As my family prepares to celebrate the arrival of your Son, help me instill in my little ones awe, reverence, and a sense of the beauty of the season. Keep us from frantic activity. Guide us toward times of peace and reflection. Let the focus be on you, dear Lord, rather than material things. Order my priorities: family time over perfect decorations; quiet moments around the dinner table valued above gourmet meals; carols sung and cookies baked instead of another trip to the mall. Let my life reflect your love, and in this reflection draw my little ones closer to you. …Amen.” (by Cindy Crosby)
This has been my unspoken goal every Christmas season since I read that article 12 years ago.
I suppose our Advent Traditions are the most intentional piece of this goal. One year I found a ‘great’ idea online. It consisted of making a holiday craft every day of December leading up to Christmas. Ha! That lasted about 3 days!
I quickly learned that our traditions MUST be simple.
We have a few favorite traditions that we have tried and enjoyed through the years. The easiest for me has been reading “The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Lambert. Each day’s devotion is about one page (short) and goes through the history of God’s redemption beginning with creation and sin, and ending with our Savior born in a manger. I created clip art for my kids to decorate with glitter glue. Most years I made a tree out of construction paper on the wall for the kids to tape their ornaments to. A small tree on a table would be even easier!
Another favorite book has been “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. The stories are a bit longer, but are written more as a story and the pictures are lovely. I was able to print ornament-sized pictures to color and put on our ‘tree’.
Another favorite tradition is a quiz! On Christmas Eve Micah would play a game quizzing the kids to see how much they remembered from our devotions? Correct answers moved the Christmas Morning wake-up time earlier; incorrect answers moved the wake-up time later!
Our kids’ favorite (but most difficult for me) is our Advent Scavenger Hunt. Before December 1st I wrap all the pieces of our three nativity sets into tissue paper. Each day in December we read a Bible passage and I send the kids on a scavenger hunt to find the nativity piece that corresponds with that verse. By December 25th all the pieces have been found and the nativity sets are complete.
Another idea that I used one year was to wrap all our Christmas books in tissue paper and let the children choose one book to read each evening in December. (I think that unwrapping gifts is the most fun so why not give the kids something to unwrap?)
Other traditions include: swapping out our regular mugs for Christmas mugs during the month of December; wearing Santa hats while delivering home-baked cookies to neighbors and taking turns opening gifts Christmas morning so that we can enjoy each present as they are opened. And we throw the wrapping into the middle of the floor. The bigger the pile the better!
There are so many ways to celebrate the Christmas season, and it’s impossible to do EVERYTHING every year! I really try to keep the Christmas season enjoyable for our family. If something is causing stress then we don’t do it. What’s the point if everyone is grumpy about the preparations?
Twelve years ago when I first read that article, Tristan was 4; now he is 16, Emily is 12, and Katie is 10. Time does fly by!
Choose what matters to YOUR family and focus on those traditions!
May God’s love transform you into a light that shines for HIM this CHRIST-mas Season!
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The One to One Soul Care Conference will be held at MCC November 9-10. Are you interested in biblical counseling? Do you feel you want some training on how to walk with a brother or sister in their dark seasons? Please join us! Click here to register at or contact Elizabeth for more information.
Please note - the Sponsorship Training for the Wood Ministry will be rescheduled for a later date. Please contact Don & Ann Moore with questions.
Pull out your mixers and aprons! SHINE is looking for people who can donate cakes, or other desserts, for A. Montoya’s Fall Festival! Cakes can be dropped off at the church foyer Friday, October 26 between 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Questions? Click here to sign up to bring a cake!MCC is gearing up for the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox drive! The mission of OCC is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Last year MCC collected 230 shoe boxes to be gifted to children around the world! Boxes will be available this Sunday, October 21st, in the foyer and the final drop-off date is November 11th! It is a great time to start gathering items to bless children around the world!
Shine also has a unique food pantry at A. Montoya! Kids often go to bed without dinner, come to school too late for breakfast, and aren't sure if there will be dinner that night. We have been asked to create a small food pantry at the school that would contain items like tuna packets, apples, macaroni and cheese, Ensure or Boost, peanut butter crackers, nuts, and the like. The children could keep these items in their backpacks so that they would always have something to keep them going. We are working on putting together a list of items, including gluten-free ones, that we would like to stock the pantry with. Please pray about whether you would like to donate items or money to help keep the pantry stocked year-round!