Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Kyle

Advent and the Family

Recommended Posts

This past July, our daughter turned three. She's now at that wonderful age where the world is new and exciting and she's full of questions. She loves church and loves asking questions about faith and God.

This coming year we would like to begin to incorporate more advent traditions with her. Already we have an advent calendar that features daily scripture readings and the like. I'm looking forward to that this year as she'll be better prepared to listen and begin to understand.

I was wondering if anyone else has any advent traditions that they celebrate with their small children? Any ideas would be welcomed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This past July, our daughter turned three. She's now at that wonderful age where the world is new and exciting and she's full of questions. She loves church and loves asking questions about faith and God.

This coming year we would like to begin to incorporate more advent traditions with her. Already we have an advent calendar that features daily scripture readings and the like. I'm looking forward to that this year as she'll be better prepared to listen and begin to understand.

I was wondering if anyone else has any advent traditions that they celebrate with their small children? Any ideas would be welcomed.

My children are younger than yours, so we can perhaps learn from each other. That said, we live in a society that's overwhelmed with Christmas songs, and aside from "O Come O Come Emmanuel", the tremendous amount of phenomenal Advent carols have been nearly buried. If you play carols in the house, I would recommend integrating some of the great Advent Carols into your playlist. Some of my favorites include "Creator of the Stars of Night", "Wachet Auf (Wake O Wake And Sleep No Longer)", and "Come O Long Expected Jesus".

Also, an Advent wreath is mandatory.

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, an Advent wreath is mandatory.

Nick

Good tips on the songs.

And for the wreath, I don't think my wife would ever allow our house to NOT have a wreath.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would recommend "Once In Royal David's City". It's a favorite of mine because Stan Kenton actually recorded the only jazz version I know of, arranged by Ralph Carmichal. Also because an Anglican bishop's wife in the 19th c. composed the lyrics for her boys Sunday School Class as a way of teaching them the true meaning of Christmas. True meaning of Christmas with a touch of perpetual personal responsibility and preparation for that meaning to have good effect for the relevant season. Tangential, but harmonious with the meaning and point of the Advent Season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, an Advent wreath is mandatory.

Nick

Good tips on the songs.

And for the wreath, I don't think my wife would ever allow our house to NOT have a wreath.

In case we're speaking the same language, an Advent wreath is different from a wreath. An Advent wreath becomes a centerpiece on a table, surrounded by four candles (three purple, one pink, or three dark blue, one cyan). Each successive Sunday there are prayers for that week, and lighting the first purple candle the first week, then the first and second purple candles the second week, the first and second purple + pink candle the third week (Gaudate Sunday), and all four the fourth Sunday. Also, there are singing different verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel, to correspond to the week you're in.

It's real cool.

I like "Once In Royal David's City", but it ain't an Advent song. Sorry. Advent songs are not about teaching what Christmas is, but an anticipation for Christ's coming, both in the cradle, but also from the clouds. So songs that call for Jesus' immenent return can apply here as well. (I for example, happen to think of an old Vineyard song, covered lovingly by Crystal Lewis, called "So Come" works perfectly in this environment.) Also, songs that appeal to "Light" of the world, and reflect the readings of Advent, that is, Isaiah 60, and Psalm 25.

Does this help?

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you have an Advent wreath? Lighting the candle makes a nice focal point for whatever other Advent traditions you develop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The concept of the Jesse Tree is kind of neat; there's an ornament for each day, with a Scripture reading pointing forward to the Messiah from the Old Testament. I remember liking that a lot when I was a kid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Along the line of Jesse Tree, I've seen paper chains where you add a verse or something each day. But I'm wary of something for a Christmas tree as an Advent activity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like "Once In Royal David's City", but it ain't an Advent song. Sorry. Advent songs are not about teaching what Christmas is, but an anticipation for Christ's coming, both in the cradle, but also from the clouds. So songs that call for Jesus' immenent return can apply here as well. (I for example, happen to think of an old Vineyard song, covered lovingly by Crystal Lewis, called "So Come" works perfectly in this environment.) Also, songs that appeal to "Light" of the world, and reflect the readings of Advent, that is, Isaiah 60, and Psalm 25.

I then stand corrected. Nick, I was waiting for your thoughts, or should have waited. You should be considered an encyclopedic authority on most matters pertaining to worship and music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Without even really trying we had an almost Santa free Christmas last year (when my eldest was 2.5), which was great.

THe biggest hit was an idea from my mum to get a Nativity set / Crib scene*. We got one with decent sized figures, with faces on and my wife made a big thing of putting it up and telling the story, and Nina was really drawn to it.

We also had a couple of children's books that were just about the Christmas story. This one was a massive hit - she'd memorised it long before Christmas even arrived.

And even things like explaining the Christian elements of standard decorations is worth doing - light cos Jesus is the Light of the WOrld. A Star / Angel on the top because of the wise men / shepherds.

Also we have a thing over here called Christingle. Know ye of it? Well done visual Church services are also good in this regard.

Plus the odd DVD etc.

It's really easy once you start thinking about it. Mel did loads last year, so much so that Nina's excitement is already building but it's about the Christian elements of it as much as the presents. Santa will force his way in a little this year of course (what with Nursery etc.), and won't be entirely unwelcome by us, but last year will always be special for us because for her it really was all about Jesus.

Matt

* If you have no idea what I mean by this (it might not be a thing over there) please do ask, cos I would really really recommend it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The concept of the Jesse Tree is kind of neat; there's an ornament for each day, with a Scripture reading pointing forward to the Messiah from the Old Testament. I remember liking that a lot when I was a kid.

We do a Jesse Tree as well as an advent wreath with our usual evening family prayers, and sing Advent songs: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (duh), "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus," "On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry," "The King of Glory," "O Come, Divine Messiah," "People, Look East").

I insist on postponing the Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations until the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday (gaudete = "rejoice" [from the Introit]; this is the "pink candle" Sunday, the note of anticipated Christmas joy amid the waiting of Advent), and try to emphasize the weeks after Christmas as the real time of rejoicing (I usually take time off from work between Christmas and New Year's and into January).

Every year we watch It's a Wonderful Life and often some version of A Christmas Carol, and sometimes The Nativity Story and/or the first hour of Jesus of Nazareth, although with continued rewatchings the flaws of the latter two become harder to overlook. (It's a Wonderful Life has no flaws, but of course like A Christmas Carol it's not about the real meaning of Christmas.) In the past we have done this during Advent, to build up to Christmas, but I'm thinking about saving It's a Wonderful Life for the week after Christmas this year.

Our church does a Christmas concert. I've done caroling door to door in the past, but in neighborhoods very different from where I live now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We do a couple of Advent activities besides the Advent wreath and an Advent Calendar.

Take twelve small matchboxes and cover them with wrapping paper. Arrange them in a circle around a crib made of popcycle sticks on a board painted gold. Inside the matchstick boxes put slips of paper with different sacrifices your kids can make. Enough slips of paper for all the days of Advent. Write things like: help with the dishes when it is not your turn, say a rosary for someone in need, pay someone a special compliment, attend daily Mass, etc. Each day have them open one matchbox and take out a slip of paper. When they have completed the task they can take a piece of straw and place it in the crib. The object is, by our many sacrifices, we can prepare a nice place for the baby Jesus when he is born. On Christmas day place baby Jesus in the crib.

Another tradition in our family is to celebrate St. Nicholas Feast day which is on Dec. 6th. http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38 We always have a party and invite our friends. Someone dresses up as St. Nicholas in a Bishops outfit and he tells some of the St. Nicholas legend stories. We have a goodie bag for all the kids.

each family brings a toy to give to St. Nicholas so he can pass them along to kids who wouldn't get a toy otherwise. We donate these toys to some charity in time for Christmas. Then we have a big bonfire and roast marshmallows.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, another Advent thing lots of people do: Set up a creche but minimally don't put out the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve. Some people like to incrementally add pieces (animals, Joseph and Mary, shepherds) throughout Advent; another approach, if you have the space, is to set out St. Joseph and Mary a distance from the creche and then move them by degrees toward the creche every day or week, so that they arrive e.g. on the 23rd and are joined by the baby Jesus on Christmas Eve.

The Magi also can be set up at a remove from the creche and made to progress slowly toward it, except that they don't arrive until Epiphany/Theophany (traditionally January 6, though for American Catholics the US bishops mucked that up in 1969/70).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah so you guys call that a creche... (see crib comments above)

FWIW I was brought up to only put the decorations late (sometimes Christmas Eve) and press on until Epiphany, but I've revised that in the last year or two. Everyone else starts so early, that I suspect it might seem to the kids that we are anti-Christmas in some way, whereas in reality we want to be the most pro-Christmas people of all and let them know it and why that is the case. Same with our church office actually.

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah so you guys call that a creche... (see crib comments above)

FWIW I was brought up to only put the decorations late (sometimes Christmas Eve) and press on until Epiphany, but I've revised that in the last year or two. Everyone else starts so early, that I suspect it might seem to the kids that we are anti-Christmas in some way, whereas in reality we want to be the most pro-Christmas people of all and let them know it and why that is the case. Same with our church office actually.

"Nativity set" or "Nativity display" are also common, but yeah, "creche" gets used a lot.

"Keep Advent in Advent" is my credo in the first half of December. Most people are all Christmas'ed out by the time the big day comes, when that's supposed to be the start of celebration. Advent is about waiting, about anticipation.

It does mean you risk seeming a bit of a Scrooge to the kids and neighbors. Calling out the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, as the week to begin the Christmas decorations and such in earnest is my solution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SDG wrote:

: "Keep Advent in Advent" is my credo in the first half of December. Most people are all Christmas'ed out by the time the big day comes, when that's supposed to be the start of celebration. Advent is about waiting, about anticipation.

Which reminds me, the Eastern churches start another 40 days of fasting this coming Sunday. Oh yay.

Among other things, this basically means I'll probably never do the milk-chocolate Advent calendars with my kids like my parents used to do with my siblings and me.

Ah well, at least we get to have fish on the weekends during the Nativity fast, unlike Lent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Playmobil makes a Nativity set. Our sons enjoyed playing with it as we set it up for last Christmas, and it was very good for interactivity. That is, if a piece went missing or got flushed down the toilet, it was not a big deal since it was Playmobil and not Grandma's heirloom china Nativity set.

http://store.playmobilusa.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-US-Site/en_US/Product-Show?pid=5719&cgid=

I tried to add that as a link, but the editor was acting dodgy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
: "Keep Advent in Advent" is my credo in the first half of December. Most people are all Christmas'ed out by the time the big day comes, when that's supposed to be the start of celebration. Advent is about waiting, about anticipation.

Which reminds me, the Eastern churches start another 40 days of fasting this coming Sunday. Oh yay.

I have such an interesting mixed reaction to posts like this from you, Peter. On the one hand, I really admire the rigorous ascesis of the Eastern Churches, and lament my impoverished heritage as an American Catholic on this point. I'm glad to go above and beyond the nominal and at times purely legalistic requirements placed on me. I would be glad for American Catholics to be held to a higher standard. And yet ... and yet I'm happy to have a little more flexibility in my diet than your discipline allows. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another tradition in our family is to celebrate St. Nicholas Feast day which is on Dec. 6th. http://www.stnichola.../Brix?pageID=38 We always have a party and invite our friends. Someone dresses up as St. Nicholas in a Bishops outfit and he tells some of the St. Nicholas legend stories. We have a goodie bag for all the kids.

each family brings a toy to give to St. Nicholas so he can pass them along to kids who wouldn't get a toy otherwise. We donate these toys to some charity in time for Christmas. Then we have a big bonfire and roast marshmallows.

That fundies would jump at the chance to celebrate a saint's feast day has me chuckling some forty-five years on. I remember on Bonaire when St. Nikolaas would roll around, how my parents and the other parents would delight in this stealing of some of the commercialism away from Christmas (of course, there was one rather indulgent family at TWR who would jump into both with both feet). Nevertheless, it didn't really catch on with many of the American families. However it is an excellent alternative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...