December has arrived and with it the frenzied chaos of preparing for Christmas. During this busy time of lights and trees and gift-giving, we tend to forget what season we’re really in: Advent. It’s a time of hopeful anticipation for the birth of Christ.
Christmas is important, but we should make it our goal to do more than just decorate, shop and bake in the weeks beforehand. Let’s find ways to prepare our hearts and homes for what can truly be the “most wonderful time of the year”.
Here are a few ways that our family prepares for Christmas, as we do our best to incorporate the joy of the season with the prayerful waiting of Advent.
Spend Time Together
Snowball fights, tobogganing, game nights… those are the things that your kids will remember long after the memory of their Christmas gifts fades away. Advent is a time where we should be intentional about spending time together as a family. Set aside at least one evening a week to do something that involves everyone.
Gathering together at the end of the day to say a short prayer can be transformational. Your family will grow closer together, and your kids will see the value of prayer. Light a candle on the Advent wreath and take a few moments to read a short reflection. Use this season of preparation as a time to form lasting habits. We often decide to pray a decade of the rosary as well. What better way to prepare for the birth of Jesus than to ask for His mother's intercession. Click here, for tips on how you can teach your kids how to pray.
Cards from Kids
This year, instead of putting together all the Christmas cards yourself, ask your kids who they think would like to receive a card. Have them choose a person they are thinking of (godparents, neighbors, grandparents, etc.), then decorate a card and write in it themselves. It’s a simple way to help them think of others during this season.
Priest also need to be thanked. Click here to download 2 awesome cards for your parish priest.
Try and have at least one special time with each of your children during Advent and consider it part of their Christmas gift. Whether it’s a couple hours playing Legos or an afternoon at the mall, your child will love that one-on-one time with you. When they look back, it’ll probably be the gift they’ll remember the most.
Advent Prayer Calendar
We all love the chocolate Advent calendars that arrive in the stores after Halloween, but have we ever thought of making our own? Put together a list of prayer intentions with your kids, cut them out, and tape the strips of paper onto a regular calendar. Open one up everyday and remember to pray for that intention.
A bonus one just for you…
The word every parent loves to hear, until they start to wonder if something’s wrong. This Advent, take a few minutes everyday to be in silence. Maybe while your kids are watching a movie or taking a nap, go to a room where you can just sit in quiet. Ask God what he wants to say to you. The pile of laundry can wait. The messy room will still be there. Make listening to God a priority, even if it’s just for 5 min.
Far too often, our prayers entail us crying out to God for help or asking him to do something for us, but how often do we actually just listen. We should see what it is he wants to say to us, and that is best done in silence.
This is by no means a complete list of all the wonderful things we can do to prepare for Christmas, and we'd love to hear some of your ideas! Let us know in the comment section what your family does during Advent.