Making New Traditions at Advent

I’m not really crafty or artistic. I don’t love buying carefully selected gifts. I don’t love carving out big chunks of time to spend with my family. I just want to get my to-do list finished. And during the holidays, that list is impossibly long. Consequently, I just don’t feel like I’m great at Advent.

Topics: The Birth of Christ | Family Discipleship

I’m not really crafty or artistic. I don’t love buying carefully selected gifts. I don’t love carving out big chunks of time to spend with my family. I just want to get my to-do list finished. And during the holidays, that list is impossibly long. Consequently, I just don’t feel like I’m great at Advent.

I’m really glad that our church celebrates Advent, even if I’m not the best at celebrating or being intentional with holidays. In fact, I’m glad that our church celebrates Advent because I’m not good at celebrating and being intentional with holidays. The beginning of Advent always makes me realize, “Oh no, I haven’t done anything yet to prepare for Christmas! If I don’t act soon, our family will get so caught up in presents, parties and activities that we won’t focus on Jesus at all!”

The simple increase in Christ-centered Christmas language at church presses me to be intentional in how we as a family should celebrate and prepare. And that is a huge grace, because at the end of Christmas day, I want to have more than a pile of torn wrapping paper and a phone full of photos. I want Christmas to be a milestone in my family. I want it to be full of traditions that point us to God’s faithfulness to keep His promises and save His people.

Each year, my wife and I try to be more intentional with Advent. We’ve gone through several Advent guides for families with varying success. But this past Christmas, we started something that I think we will repeat. Last year we downloaded a free copy of “A Jesus Advent Celebration” by Ann Voskamp. The PDF includes 27 family devotionals and corresponding paper ornaments to cut out and hang on a tree each day (typically called a Jesse Tree). We printed the PDF, cut out the cards and started doing the devotionals with our 3-year-old after our 9-month-old twins went to bed.

After the first few nights, we realized that we would have to alter our plan because the devotional content was just too difficult and complex for our daughter’s age and attention span . We decided to stay with the Voskamp storyline but supplement with the Jesus Storybook Bible narratives. We would read the narrative, find the matching ornament, and then I would pick little Katie up so she could hang the ornament on our tree. It ended up being a great system we all loved.

I can’t say that we crushed the whole Advent deal last year and  did a devotional every night, but I can say that we tried hard and got most of the readings in. Some days we did multiple stories or did our devotional in the mornings rather than just before bed. This time of year is rarely clean and easy, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon all hope of being intentional. Our new Advent tradition offered a place to start and a pattern to build on as our children grow.

Christmas is more than a time for building memories; it is a time for keeping alive the significance of Advent for our children and our children’s children. Do you have a plan for nurturing the message of Christ as the central theme of your family’s Christmas? Take a step today toward redeeming the holiday season by choosing and using an Advent tool that will serve your family well.

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Suggested Resources

For a weekly approach to celebrating Advent, you can download our guide here.

If you would like to try the Tonnes’ Advent tradition with your family, here is a breakdown of which pages in the Jesus Storybook Bible correspond to Voskamp’s “A Jesus Advent Celebration”:

A Jesus Advent Celebration

Date

JSBB

It is Advent. Come.

November 29

pp. 144-151

Life Begins as a Love Story

November 30

pp. 18-27

Where are You?

December 1

pp. 28-37

Saved

December 2

pp. 38-47

Living by Faith

December 3

Read from Voskamp

Laugh

December 4

pp. 56-61

God Promises

December 5

pp. 62-69

The House of God

December 6

pp. 48-55

The Colors of Love

December 7

pp. 76-83

Engraved on His Hands

December 8

pp. 100-107

Loving the Family of God

December 9

pp. 70-75

Venturing Big for God

December 10

pp. 122-129

Looking on Hearts

December 11

pp. 116-121

The Shepherd King Who Lays Down His Life

December 12

pp. 130-135

Light to Warm Us

December 13

Read from Voskamp

Fire God

December 14

pp. 84-91

New Kingdom Coming

December 15

pp. 342-349

Staggering Extremes

December 16

pp. 160-169

Lifting Up the Little and Small

December 17

pp. 184-191

Come to the King

December 18

pp. 192-199

Watching for Him Who is Enough

December 19

pp. 108-115

Grace Turns Us Toward One Another

December 20

pp. 170-175

The Water of Repentance

December 21

pp. 200-207

Be a Dwelling Place For God

December 22

pp. 177-183

Son of a Carpenter

December 23

Read from Voskamp

Journey

December 24

pp. 177-183

Here

December 25

pp. 184-191

Note: As with most outside resources, this guide does not align with The Village’s theological distinctives in a few areas. That said, those concerns are generally secondary in nature and, overall, we feel it can be a helpful, gospel-centered guide through the Advent season.