November 29, 2010

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Suddenly the Christmas season is upon us. Are you ready? 

Christmas involves so much: shopping, wrapping, food, parties, decorating, traveling, and music. It's easy for the whole month to zoom by and never stop to actually celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Savior of the world. I find that if I don't prepare myself for Christmas, it loses its profound meaning and I'm distracted by the hustle and bustle of the season. I'll write more on that in later posts, but today I wanted to share some suggestions for helping kids understand and prepare for Christmas.

            

I've mentioned Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Our Traditions on my blog, but I can't talk about it enough. She gives practical suggestions for everyday family traditions and holidays that tell Christ's story. (I've read it so much that I've practically memorized it so now I'm giving my copy away to a lucky blog reader. Keep reading for more info.) Here's what she says about Advent:

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. 1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we look back to during Advent. For four weeks, it's as if we're reenacting, remembering the thousands of years during which God's people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God's salvation, for Jesus. That's what Advent means--"coming." They were waiting, but they didn't know what God's salvation would look like.
Advent is a season of looking back, thinking how it must have been, waiting for the promised salvation of God, not knowing what to expect. And at the same time, Advent is a season of looking ahead, preparing ourselves to meet Jesus at his Second Coming. (pg 76-77)

In our house (kids ages are 7, 5, and 2), we prepare for and teach our kids about Christmas using an Advent calendar and kids books.



The Advent calendar, also by Noel Piper, walks through the Christmas story so that by the 25th, the kids (and adults) practically have it memorized. We do this every morning after breakfast. For some reason, they are no longer making this calendar, but it could be easily made using pictures or trinkets from Michael's. If you'd like the reading that goes along with it, email me.

Another option, good for older children, is a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree represents the lineage of Jesus and tells the story leading up to His arrival. You can find readings and pictures for a Jesse tree here.

The second thing we do with our kids is read books about the birth of Christ. Each year, I buy a book appropriate for their ages and write their ages on the back. We now have a pile that each child chooses from each night for bedtime reading. The kids' absolute favorite is The Little Drummer Boy. We sing it everyday while we look through the book. Some of our other favorites are pictured below.






The third thing we do with our kids is watch this video with them. The whole family loves it!

Now it's your turn. Please share how you teach your kids about Christmas in the comment section. Each comment will be an entry to win Noel Piper's book. I'll randomly select a winner on Sunday, December 7th at 9 pm. Merry Christmas!