I love advent! Every year, advent becomes more and more central to my heart’s celebration of Christmas.
But I haven’t always felt this way.
When I was a child, Christmas was: Pepsi, games, candy, mandarin oranges, presents, peanuts, gatherings, thrill, and excitement.
I confess that I rolled my child-eyes in distaste at “fanatical” families who made the season all about Jesus.
I’m not sure why I felt this way, especially since my family held to a genuine Christian faith while I was growing up. I understood the reason for our celebrations but…
Did I want to bring Jesus into our festivities?
Goodness, NO! That would ruin Christmas!
Looking back, I can see that Jesus was always present within the love and the joy of childhood Christmases, whether I acknowledged him or not. This is because:
Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights.
— James 1:17a
In fact, God invented gift-giving.
And since he also knows each of us completely — how we think, why we act the way we do, where our feelings come from, and how we connect with him — he picks the perfect present every time.
God knew that if I would just give Jesus a chance at Christmas, I could experience the gift of a heart connected with God in a deeper way.
He knew because it’s how he made me.
Graciously, God has since set me free from my childhood attitude (you can read more about my journey to freedom here) and enabled me to celebrate Christmas in this special way — the way of advent.
I now wholeheartedly embrace the “Jesus-ness” of the season with joy!
Of course, this means that my children are now at the mercy of an advent-fanatical mother. They must love advent with me! Well, they don’t have to, but I can be very convincing and they generally come along for the ride.
This year, the kids and I will be reading Anne Voskamp‘s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. It includes a reading for each day until Christmas, starting December 1st. Ideas for meaningful family activities are given at the end of each reading.
The coolest part of this book, in my opinion, is the concept of placing one ornament of remembrance on your Jesse Tree after each reading.
Alas, I don’t have a Jesse Tree.
Our very own Jesse Tree!
We amateur crafters are quite proud.
Now that we’re all set with our tree, I’m excited to share the first advent reading with my children on December 1st.
I pray that as each year passes, their hearts will make more and more room for Jesus during the Christmas season. I can already see it happening.
A merry Christmas season to you, and may God bless you with the gift of discovering how your heart connects with his.
*** UPDATE*** You can find out how our Jesse Tree advent season became an epic-fail here.)
Sara Jane Kehler