In past years I have tried to really "work" the Advent season. I read some beautiful blogs that always encourage keepers of the home to embrace the true meaning of Christmas and keep Christ at the center. I love that. In the spirit of giving us all tangible ways to do that, there is the Jesse Tree and Upside Down Christmas and Light 'Em Up and so many other things - and y'all, these things are AWESOME.
But in this season, with four kids under 6, it can feel like pressure.
Growing up, I don't ever remember my mom doing anything "Advent-y" with us. (And mom, if you did, I'm so sorry I've forgotten.) We never attended a very liturgical church, so as an adult I still can't explain the 4 purple candle tradition. Or wait, is it four pink candles?
While we didn't do anything very "Advent-y" when I was a child, I understood that Christmas was about Jesus and well, in my family we loved us some Jesus. We talked about Jesus January through November. By the time Christmas rolled around, we got it. We loved Jesus and Christmas was his birthday, so it made sense to have a big celebration.
In my mind it's a bit like my kids' birthdays. Everyone in the family loves our kids and shows them love year-round. When their birthday comes around we don't have to remind everyone how special that kid is, or why we need to have a party for them. Everyone gets it - we love this kid, therefore we tell them how special they are and we celebrate them. I think it should be kind of the same with Jesus.
This year I'm letting go of the need to "do" more with the kids. We will read the Christmas story a bit more than other Bible stories this month. We will talk about the why behind our traditions. But this year there won't be lists of ways to make it amazing or extra service projects or specific scriptures to read on specific days.
Hope, Love, Joy, Peace.
This is what the Advent candles represent. Yes, I just looked it up. To remind us that before Christ came there was darkness and when He came, He brought Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Instead of doing more to show my kids what Christmas and Jesus are all about, I think I am going to focus on being present with my kids. I think they'd like that a lot more actually than me stressing over some crazy craft.
I do want my kids to see that their Mom places her Hope in Christ and not herself. For me right now that looks like acknowledging my failures (i.e. when I yell at my kids, lose my cool with my kids, use a bad word around my kids....etc.) and asking for their forgiveness when I need it. Messing up is actually a great way to share the Gospel with my kids.
I do want my kids to see that their Mom can Love them because she was first Loved by Him. This looks a lot like just being kind most of the time. Remembering they are people I am raising, not tasks I am managing.
I want my kids to see that knowing Christ brings unshakeable Joy into my world. Again, for me right now this is mainly not throwing a temper tantrum just because they do.
I want to make it obvious that my heart is not troubled by the chaos around me because I have Peace within me. I think you can probably guess my application of this one by now.
If I can live that out this month, I have a feeling my kids will catch on to the meaning of Christmas. With or without pink and purple candles.