Saturday, December 5

Celebrating Advent

It seems that most of spend the end of November and most of December in a flurry of activity that often leaves us feeling flustered and wondering if we really achieved all that we set out to do. We buy and decorate and buy and bake and buy and wrap and buy and buy and buy and at the end of December can end up feeling a bit depleted emotionally and physically.

Sure, Christmas is a happy and joyous time, but so often my expectations are that it will be blissful, momentous and peaceful, when in the end, and especially with children, it can sometimes just feel like numerous days of semi-organized chaos.

This year I was considering the upcoming Christmas season and how I could practice being more "in" the moment and really striving to relish what the season is supposed to be about. How can I allow Christ to permeate my Christmas? As I began thinking about it I was remembering the advent wreath and candle lighting that took place every Sunday at my church growing up. I started asking myself, "What is advent?" What does it actually mean? What is it's purpose in the Christmas season and could it be a practice that would help me to slow down and focus on what is really important?

There are many websites and resources about what advent is historically, how it can be celebrated, and how to integrate it into our lives. On a basic level the term advent is latin for coming or arrival. It is a time of spiritual reflection and anticipation about God's arrival in our world through a baby named Jesus. One website ( puts it this way, "This is a time to get ready by rejoicing that our God is not far away and unfamiliar with the struggles of human life...The bigger Christmas became the more it swallowed up Advent...practicing Advent as a religious season man help recover Christmas."

So as much as I can I am trying to approach this time in a more spiritual way than I have in the past. From my own experience and others I have read about here are some ways to help you focus your mind on the truer meanings of Christmas:

1. Get Quiet: Grab a cup of tea or coffee, turn the Christmas lights on, light a candle and simply be quiet and in the moment. Consider Christmases of the past, traditions that have prodded joy and peace for you, and think about ways you can help to bring more of that into this Christmas season. I love Psalm 46:10, "Be STILL and know that I am God." How often do we allow ourselves to be still these days?

2. Do some reading. A friend of mine gave me an Advent devotional put out by our church, which is a wonderful book of reflections for the Advent season. Here is a link to a wonderful website sponsored by Reverend Charles Stanley ministries. They put out a free monthly magazine full of encouraging stories and reflections. Their December issue is a wonderful resource for focusing your energy spiritually during Christmas:

3. Write About It. I'm big on journaling. Writing down my thoughts helps to make them more concrete. Perhaps you start a journal that you use only a Christmas time. You could pack it away with your Christmas things and bring it out each year, allowing it to be a seasonal reflection. Or, if you keep a journal regularly, jot some thoughts down about your experiences, thoughts and desires for the Christmas season. 

4. Sing!! Pick up a book of Christmas music, or pull up songs online and sing them with your family. If that is too cheesy, put in your favorite CD, but be sure to sing along! I made Scott bring our keyboard up from the basement and have been rehashing old piano lessons by trying to play Christmas songs. Silly as it sounds, it has been fun, the girls love it, and it has brought me a measure of joy unexpected! Some of the more spiritual Christmas songs, in particular, are really beautiful when you really consider the words.

5. Find Christ centered activities. There are several drive through Bethlehem scenes in our area. Activities like this are great for teaching our children what Christmas is really about. I've also made a special focus on picking up children's books about baby Jesus and the real Christmas story to read to Ava.  Also, be sure to try to attend church services, not just on Christmas eve, but throughout the month of December. I always find that no matter how flustered I am on a given Sunday morning, or how much I didn't feel like getting everyone ready for church, once I'm sitting and listening to God's word, I realize it is right where I needed to be. 

Would love to hear ideas from others about how you incorporate spiritual reflection into your Christmas season. Leave comments below!


  1. I am with you Lisa! I try to cherish every day leading up to Christmas b/c I hate seeing it come and go so quickly. It's truly such a magical time of year, like none other, and there is so much more to it than buying presents. Although, I have to say that I love giving and I love that I can do something for someone that really brings a smile to his/her face.

    I never knew what advent meant and it really is beautiful. I so glad you're immersing yourself in the joy of Christmas and making it such a important holiday. I am also glad that I'll be able to hear Ava sing to me!!!

  2. Hey Lin, Thanks for sharing your thoughts-- it's nice to know someone else is on the same page!! And thanks for being my sole reader!!!


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