Advent is Here

I just love this time of year. I love the twinkling lights and colorful decorations. I love shopping for my family and sending out cards. And having kids only makes this season more magical and fun. I love that Liam and Isabel are at an age where they can get excited about all the Christmas fun. 

BUT...

It can also be overwhelming and feel almost wasteful. The older I get the more I feel this need to simplify. I don't want to go overboard on the presents and Santa stories. Liam is already a toy fiend. Not a day passes that he doesn't ask for a new toy or game. We try to remind him to be thankful for what he has. In fact when I recently reminded him about being thankful he told me, "But Thanksgiving is over." D'oh! Gratitude should be a year-round state of being! I know he's young. It can be difficult to grasp these concepts at the tender age of four. So I try to be understanding and not put too much pressure on him about all of this. 

That being said, I want to make sure he and Isabel realize that Advent isn't just about counting down to the day when they can open a bunch of presents. Advent is about the hope and expectation of the arrival of Jesus, God with us. 

So here are two simple things we are doing to bring our focus to Christ during this Advent. 

1. Advent Wreath. I wrote about our Advent wreath last year. Check out the post for all the instructions. I love that it's something simple but full of years of church tradition. I love sitting around the wreath with the kids talking about what each candle represents. I love asking them what they think about each candle and hearing their simple little prayers before we blow out the candles. It's a really wonderful tradition. (Another activity from last year...this beautiful advent devotional for children.)

2. Star From Afar. I could never get into the whole Elf on the Shelf tradition that seems to have overtaken the internet in recent years. It just didn't feel like a good fit for our family. But then I heard about this new tradition: the Star from Afar. You guys, this is awesome! It's a little wooden kid-friendly nativity set and book that explains the Christmas story and how the three wise men followed the star to find Baby Jesus in the manger. Then each day in December Alex and I hide the star somewhere in the house. The kids look for the star when they wake up in the morning and put the wise men next to it. On Christmas Day the star appears over the manger and the three wise men find Jesus. The kids are so into this little game. It really is a fun and simple way to keep Christ in the conversation this Christmas. 

Those are just two easy ways to point our kids to Jesus this Advent. I feel that these traditions will keep the magic alive this season while still being rich in meaning and purpose. Anyone else doing something fun with their kids this Advent?