The season of Advent is a time of deep reflection and celebration in anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Brooke and Jed Heubner (International Office Volunteers, US) reflect on their family traditions which help keep their hearts and minds focused on Christ during the busyness of the season:
“When we were kids, the focus of Advent was the chocolate candies which were taken one per day, from tiny windows in a cardboard calendar. As adults, we don’t want Advent to simply be about chocolate candies or the season for Christmas shopping. Advent is a season to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s coming. We certainly don’t have Advent “figured out,” but there are a few traditions that we have established as a family in order to help us prepare our hearts. Maybe they can inspire you!
Every year, we pray a blessing over our Advent wreath, with its traditional four candles and evergreen boughs, four Sundays before Christmas and then light a candle as we pray every evening before dinner. We light an additional candle each week until Christmas. When we light candles on the Advent wreath it reminds us of the light of Christ and our call to be a light to the world, and it’s a fun way to involve dinner guests and other visitors in our home.
Another favourite tradition is to read an Advent devotional together every evening as a couple. It has given us a chance to go deeper in understanding our Father’s heart, and spend time together in prayer which is good for our marriage.
A new tradition that we are starting this year is no Christmas shopping during Advent! This means that all of our gifts will be purchased before December 3, eliminating that huge distraction and allowing us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
After preparing our hearts during Advent, we find it helpful to extend our celebration of Christmas beyond the 25 of December. It brings a better balance to the season and it takes off some of the pressure to make Christmas Day deeply spiritual, which can be difficult when it’s full of travel, family and food. So we celebrate Christmas for 12 days (like the song “On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”). We leave our Christmas tree up, continue to light the candles on our Advent wreath, and keep reading our devotional during that time. This all wraps up when we go to church on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrate the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles. (That’s us!)
I invite you to consider starting one new tradition this year and invite the Father to use it to do something new in you this year. May our Abba Father hold you close as you prepare to receive his Son Jesus this Christmas. Amen.”