Our family’s calendar in December can look overwhelming. Three school Christmas concerts, baking, shopping & wrapping, gift exchanges, parties, Advent devotionals, Advent calendars and countdowns, putting up lights, tree hunting and decorating, visiting grandparents in two different provinces.
And when I look at that list, I realize there are other practices I missed.
December is busy. With three kids in school and starting a new role as Director of Youth & Family, this December feels particularly busy. We want to keep up with our normal practices, but ultimately, we want to point our children to Jesus. We want them to love and appreciate the story that has become so familiar to them.
To do this, we lean heavily into the practice of Advent. Advent has long been a season of waiting and preparation. Its intent isn’t to give us time to get our trees ready, but to get our hearts ready. Joan Chittister (The Liturgical Year) writes, “The function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do.” As leaders, as parents, our role is to use this season to point others toward the things that do matter, to remember the One for whom we’re waiting.
My wife and I build anticipation through a family countdown. Every day, one of us unwraps a new Christmas glass or mug (last year it was socks). We prepare their hearts by journeying through a family Bible reading plan (this year we’re following Children’s Advent House).
I think many of us long to have an Advent and Christmas season that is card-worthy. We imagine an idyllic scene where our children are sitting calmly in front of the tree while we retell the Christmas story. (Honestly, our family devotions are far removed from that scene. Picture that Jack-Jack and raccoon scene from Incredibles 2 and you’ll have a better sense of our family devotions.)
But we can all add one thing to our family rhythms. What is one thing that you can do to point your children to Jesus this season? Maybe it’s finding a family devotion guide. Maybe it’s baking cookies and delivering them to your neighbours. Maybe it’s gathering some friends and going Christmas carolling.
Change works best in small steps. Grab hold of one thing that you can add to your already busy Christmas season.
Praying for you as you continue to use this season to draw attention to Jesus.