Christmas isn't like it used to be.
In the years when my oldest kids were preschoolers, there were a couple Decembers when I felt pretty stressed about Christmas - about its ethos. I knew didn't want us to get caught up in a perfectly decorated house and loot and Santa (though we "do" Santa); I wanted it to be about Advent and wonder and Jesus. We were armed with the heart to go this route, but I wanted to double check that, actions-wise, we were on track. So I read the blogs and consulted the mentors and gathered up my ideas and plans. I wrapped little nativity characters in paper for us to unwrap, one evening at a time, at dinner. I wrote Christmas carols on scraps of paper that I put in a jar for us so we could pick one per night to play, sing and talk about. I printed all Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree images and had them laminated; then we built a Jesse tree together over the weeks before Christmas as we read the devotional.
Those were great activities, and I don't regret a single one of them. But they also came with a lot of wrapping and stowing and laminating... at a time when wrapping and stowing are already at a peak. I felt a bit drained by it all. Maybe you can relate?
Today, happily, I feel less stressed about the Advent Ethos. Not only because the traditions that best suit our posse are now pretty well ensconced, but also because I've figured out how to get things flowing in a simpler way. (And of course it helps that my kids, at ages 6 - 12, are old enough to support the efforts). Without further ado, here are 5 things we do - easily and simply - to get our Jesus-focused Advent on.Read More