“I found Jesus!” proudly proclaimed my daughter. We weren’t hosting a revival in the living room, rather, a quick search in the basement for our errant plastic Savior for the nativity set.
She reverently handed the figurine to me and pulled out the rest of the set before trudging upstairs to play with it.
The first Sunday of Advent is one of our favorites. In fact, the entire season of Advent is probably our favorite season. We fill our home with the symbols of the season-the wreath and its candles, our Advent calendars, and the nativity sets all get pulled out from storage to be displayed and used for the next four weeks.
It also helps that our almost six-year old twins’ birthday is December 23rd; I take full advantage of that to make Advent a season full of anticipation and expectation!
We have our Advent wreath set out as the centerpiece on the dining table where every morning during breakfast we gather to light the candles and do a prayer.
My husband and I take turns reading a simple prayer and reflection every morning and allow the girls to take turns blowing out the candles.
This simple and short (about one minute) tradition helps us to set apart Advent as a special time of the year.
In our house the Three Wise Men begin their journey when Advent commences. Each night while the children are sleeping I move the Three Wise Men around our house so they can be found again each morning, traveling from spot to spot to eventually end their travels at the manger on the Feast of Epiphany.
We’ve received and purchased several nativity sets over the years, and, where possible, the manger sits empty until Christmas (Jesus is stored on top of the fridge until then). Two of the nativity sets are toy sets for the children to play with; sometimes Spiderman and Elsa come for a visit or spend the night sleeping by the donkey.
The small things
We bookend our days with prayer by gathering in the living room in the evenings as the children go to their Advent calendars and open the correct day to find a Bible verse and treat. They love keeping track of the days as we start assembling the story of Jesus’ birth.
I take time to fill our home with the signs of the season. We look forward to Advent by adding in small things. Totaled together, our celebrations only add about five minutes of activity and prayer.
It has, over the past few years, left a lasting impression on our household. Most of what we do is more passive -– the colors we decorate with, the items we have displayed in our home. But the active parts help to reinforce the waiting, the wanting, the getting ready that is important for all of us, so we may make a space in our hearts for the birth of Christ.
(Abby Henderson, Assistant Director of Religious Education, Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Parish)