Family Advent Activities
Christmas is just about my favourite time of the year! I love it! I have such wonderful memories from my childhood – my parents gave us such fantastic Christmases! And I wanted to be able to give this same gift of a magical Christmas and beautiful memories to my children. But I became conscious that I was trying to run two Christmases in parallel: the Christmas celebration of Christ and the Christmas celebration of fun traditions – and often the latter was more appealing to them than the first. I realised that I needed to make a conscious effort to put Christ at the heart of Christmas, but I didn’t want to lose the tree decorating, and the lights, and the baking and all those fun times – and I also believe that God wouldn’t want me to. After all, this is the birth of Jesus we’re celebrating: God incarnate come to reconcile all of creation to himself (Col 1:20). Of course Christmas celebrations should be fun and memorable and exciting! But they should also point to Jesus, not distract from him.
And so I started to think about how I could bring many of the traditions I love about Christmas in line with the heart of Christmas. A lot of the traditions are not, technically, being redeemed as they were never to do with the birth of Christ in the first place: Christmas trees and Santa, for example. But Christ came to reconcile all things to Himself, including these.
Looking on the internet I struggled to find anything that met with what I was trying to do. Some resources actually reinforced this ‘dual Christmas’ by coming up with specifically Christian activities about the Christmas story, but not drawing into it the other traditions that have become a part of our Christmas celebrations. But what several people did note was that the Jesus Storybook Bible contained 24 stories leading up to Christmas, all showing how they ‘breathed [Jesus’] name’. Perfect! And so, a couple of years ago, I began putting together my own advent activities for my children. I’m sharing these ideas so that they might be a spring board for your own thinking – they’re just ideas. Change them as best suits your family, and swap in your own traditions – it might even be a great opportunity to start some new ones!
Some things will go way above the head of my children until they are older, but by starting them now I hope they grow up with Christ firmly at the centre of their Christmas – they won’t have competing narratives taking root in their hearts and minds.