Lisa wrote about the holidays a while ago, and I decided it was my turn to tackle it this morning for a couple of reasons.
- The Christmas tree is up and twinkling next to me and so it's on my mind.
- I spoke about simplifying the holidays at MOPS on Tuesday.
- Advent begins tomorrow.
The primary way we have simplified the holidays (and birthdays and anniversaries and the like) is to celebrate the story, rather than the stuff.
Stuff gets lost, broken, forgotten. Stuff can cost money we don't have, take up space we don't have, and be things we don't even want or need.
(Did you know that Americans spend $450 billion on Christmas every year? And $1.2 billion of that is spent on Christmas ornaments imported from China? And that it would only cost $10 billion to provide clean water for everyone on the planet? Check out adventconspiracy.org for more information.)
So how do we celebrate the story of Christmas? We tell the story of the first Christmas and we tell the story of our family's Christmas--in as many ways as we can think of.
For our family, celebrating Advent is a big part of telling the story of the first Christmas. And for young families trying to balance parents and in-laws and all those expectations, Advent is a great way to come up with some traditions just for your own little family.
The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas (tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent) and at its simplest involves lighting candles and reading Scripture. You need five candles and a Bible--pretty simple!
I keep a bookmark in my Bible and one at the dining room table with a list of Advent readings. Here's a file if you'd like to download and print it. Download Advent bookmarks
Want more information on Advent candles and wreaths? Look here or here. Or as my girls would say, "Just google it!"
Each Sunday, we light an Advent candle and read the Scripture for that candle. Then for dinner every night that next week, we light that same candle and read that day's Scripture. The next week, we light the next candle, and have two candles lit each night. And so on, adding candles until we come to Christmas day and the fifth candle, Christ's candle.
The readings are short and even small children can participate and listen.
We also celebrate Advent in some other ways too. I'll be highlighting some different things over the next few weeks that help us celebrate the story of the first Christmas--Advent calendars, books that tell the story, Advent devotionals, nativity sets, music, and more.
(I did update the Advent page on The Simple Wife bookshop at Amazon. Just click on the button over there ---->. It is Amazon, but organized in a way that allows me to share some of our favorite things with you.)
And I'd love to hear how you have celebrated Advent as well. I said it a lot on Tuesday at MOPS--we are each other's greatest resource for simplifying the holidays and telling the story of Christmas.
So, do you celebrate Advent? How? Or do you have any Advent questions? Ask away, and we can all do our best to answer and share what's worked for our families.
It snowed last night, so I just have to show you the view from the kitchen window this morning:
And from my quiet time chair in the living room, next to the Christmas tree: