This year, however, I have a great start to some wonderful traditions to help keep our focus every day up to Christmas.
I have printed out Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Advent Family Devotional (Jesse being David's father, the royal line to Jesus) for our morning devotion, which is based on this verse:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit...In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. Isa 11:1, 10We've been coloring and cutting out the ornaments, that go with each day leading up to Christmas, for the Jesse tree. I wasn't sure what to use for my tree, so I made due with what I had around the house and came up with this. It's meant to be one shoot, but we're using our imaginations there. It's pretty earthy with a little dazzle, but I like it. That's my style.
For our afternoons, after school and homework, we have the Family Book of Advent activity book. This is a great little book that incorporates something hands-on for each of the devotions, which is great for kids! Our first project was making a wreath designed to emphasize the names of Jesus. As we go through the devotions this Advent season, for any name of Jesus that we discover, we create a star, write the name on it and add it to the wreath.
Finally, I am excited to read the children each night before bed Tabitha's Travels: A Family Story for Advent, which takes a character and tells a story of Advent through that character. I love that for our children, too, because they also learn through storytelling.
If that seems like a lot for every day, it's really not. We're just plugging in to the times we already have carved out of our days. We do a devotion every morning, usually coloring or a craft in the afternoons, and always stories before bed. The theme for the month is simply Advent: the coming of our Lord.
And of course, we'll light the Advent candle each Sunday with a family devotion up until Christmas.
There are so many things that we could do to help turn our focus to Christ, in the way of service and action, and undoubtedly we'll incorporate other ideas that come to mind along the way. However, this is where we are starting. We'll see what works, what doesn't work, and we'll add to the traditions next year.
That is what I have found works best when forming routines, habits, or traditions. Start with something manageable. Once that becomes a practice, add to it the next manageable thing.
Whatever we do, however, the most important thing is that we are finding ways to point our eyes to Christ through the anticipation of his coming.
What are you doing this year to intentionally turn your focus to Christ?