It can be hard to seek Christmas and experience the season of Advent and harder still to do so with the children in our lives. There’s so much to balance and think through:
– How many gifts do you give? Do you follow a formula like need/want/wear/read? Do you give three gifts like the wise men brought Jesus?
– Why bother decorating when the tiny tornadoes will come through behind you?
– How do you balance the secular with the sacred of the season?
Besides all the technical aspects, how do we give and teach our kids about the season of Advent, of seeking and celebrating Christmas, when we barely have time to do so ourselves?
Advent is an excellent time to learn about waiting. We wait to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, just like we wait to celebrate our own birthdays. We wait for a break from school. We wait for good things to bake. In both small and large scale ways, we are always waiting, and that’s hard to do. My kids are still super little, but even if your children are grown or in college or school-age, the principles apply.
No matter what your age, kid or grownup, waiting is hard. And God built waiting and anticipating directly into the season of Advent. The word itself is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event,” with its roots in the Latin for “arrival, to come.”
Advent in and of itself is waiting for an arrival.
Learning to wait is a virtue, and one that our instantly gratified culture doesn’t lend itself to. All around us are signals that we are late, that we are behind, that we are put off by the thought or posture of waiting. But God built it right into the DNA of Christmas, and we have the opportunity to help the kids in our lives learn this skill and learn about the season of waiting.
The Shepherd on the Search is one of my favorite ways to help my kids learn about waiting.
When we pull out our Shepherd each year, the kids want to immediately place him in the stable. We have to remind each other that he won’t arrive at his destination until Christmas morning, but that each day until then he will move closer and closer. We have to wait for his arrival, just as the world did before that first Christmas. Each morning during December my kids clatter down the stairs to see where the shepherd has ended up, and each evening we end the day with the Family Devotional Book.
My kids are still pretty little to sit still for a long reading, so I pick and choose pieces to share with them. Having so many options right at my fingertips makes me feel more equipped to share the Advent story with them, and they look forward to this time each night.
Also, you can get a flock of sheep and a camel for your Shepherd — yes, really! We have both the Ewe Are Loved Plush Sheep and the Special Edition Camel, and my kids are convinced that the shepherd will be able to move to the manger much faster now that he has a camel to ride.
Christmas isn’t an easy story to understand when you’re little (or big!), and I’m always looking for ways to make the miracle more accessible for us all.
This wooden nativity set also makes it easy to talk through the Christmas story. My kiddos love recreating the Bethlehem scene, adding their own twist and take to it. The main set comes with a stable, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus (He attaches to the manger magnetically!), two angels, three kings, two shepherds, and two sheep — all that you need to walk little ones through the Bethlehem scene and story.
And if your kids are crazy for the manger scene, there’s also an additional set that includes two palm trees, a cow, three camels, a donkey, an innkeeper, a shepherd, and interactive cards. Those accompanying story cards give me a natural, non-forced way to share truth with my kids while they think they’re just having fun playing.
The cards have a brief scripture and a short devotion-type piece to read. Sometimes it’s a piece of the Christmas story, and sometimes it’s the history of a Christmas hymn, but every one is readable and makes the fullness of the story more accessible for my kiddos.
To see my kids playing with the wooden nativity sets, their sweet little voices talking about the Christmas story as they understand it, seeing their shepherd on the search for the manger. . . it melts my heart. To get that reaction and knowledge? Priceless.
Here are a few more Advent items that will help you and yours focus on the season:
Countdown to Christmas Door Hanger: just move the included clothespin down as it gets closer and closer to December 25th. This is a super simple visual way to mark the days.
Peanuts Advent Calendar: this is my kids’ favorite. They love opening the little door each day (honestly, so do I!), and we read one more short part of the Christmas story.
Advent Wreath with Berries & Candles: we light our Advent wreath on Sunday nights, and sometimes again during the suppers we eat together during the week. This particular wreath is beautiful, with its glittering berries and liturgical candles.
Find all of these Advent items (and more) right here! Advent begins on Sunday, December 2nd (and many countdowns start on December 1st), so it’s neither too early nor too late to start getting ready for the season of waiting.
How do you teach the children in your life about Advent, the season of waiting?
Advent in and of itself is waiting for an arrival. Click To Tweet