As we head into week two of Advent, I wanted to share some ideas and suggestions for ways to observe this meaningful season. Some of my ideas are geared towards families. Other ideas are more individual in nature.  I’m no expert on this topic and I don’t want to suggest there is a “right” way to celebrate Advent. But if you’re like me, you enjoy hearing ideas from others and you will pick and choose the ones that suit you best.

Whether you have children in the home or not, an Advent Wreath is a lovely starting point. Your wreath can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. Check out Pinterest if you’re looking for inspiration. For a number of years, each Sunday evening our family would gather to light one of the candles and read the appropriate Scripture passage. Once our children learned to read, we shared the reading duties.Throughout the week, while eating dinner, we would relight the candle(s) for that week. I particularly enjoyed this aspect—lighting the candle(s) each night—because it made Advent feel more like an “everyday” observance rather than a once-a-week affair.

Another family-friendly Advent tradition is an Advent calendar. I’m not referring to the kind that gives a gift each day, but the one that opens to a picture or a verse related to the story of Christ’s birth. Jacob and Anna loved taking turns opening each day’s frame. I found the Advent calendar a fun way to foster anticipation—a central theme of Advent. What does today’s picture reveal in the Christmas narrative?

A more recent tradition that has been meaningful to me personally is to light  a candle each morning while reading my Bible and drinking my coffee. This simple act of bringing light into darkness, as well as some good smells, reminds me of Christ’s presence as I begin another day.

Several of my friends celebrate St. Nicholas Day with their families. Allowing a child to open a small gift on December 6, the actual feast day for this saint, eases some of the tension of waiting all the way until Christmas Day. While this day is not connected to Advent per say, it provides an opportunity to talk and to think about gift giving and showing compassion to others. Perhaps this could be a day where you bake a special food gift and give it friends or neighbors. I know, not much lead time on this idea as tomorrow is St. Nick Day.

Lastly, this is a season for reading aloud, whether it be Scripture, poetry, or a classic piece of literature such as The Christmas Carol. Some of my favorite read alouds contain some lovely Christmas scenes. Reread the scene in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when Father Christmas visits Narnia or find all of the vignettes about Christmas in The Little House on the Prairie books.  For a number of years, as our family drove to the Midwest for the holidays, we read aloud The Best (Worst) Christmas Pageant Ever. This heartwarming story guaranteed good laughs along with poignant moments that helped the long hours to pass more quickly.

What about you? Do you have any special Advent traditions? I would love to hear them!

May Christ’s peace and hope be yours this week.

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