This year, I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old who makes all the preparations for Christmas even more meaningful and all the preparation even more gratifying than before because she has grown in understanding and in the ability to ANTICIPATE! It is so fun!
Like last year, I planned our daily advent activities ahead of time, as inspired by the amazing Kim, and wrapped a “present” that coordinated with each day. This year, we are also going through a book, The ADVENTure of Christmas: Finding Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions, by Lisa Whelchel, that succinctly explains the origin of some traditions and symbols of Christmas, along with some quick discussion questions and activity ideas. I learned that “advent” means “to come” in reference to Jesus coming down to earth; thus advent is a time to prepare for His coming. I love planning the days ahead of time and wrapping the gifts beforehand because it makes the whole advent time a fun celebration for me, too! There’s no brainstorming, decision-making, or scrambling and throwing stuff together the night before, making for a more peaceful season. I love it! I also mark on my calendar when her last day of various classes occur, to remind me to bring teacher gifts, and I even put making Christmas cookies for teachers, neighbors, etc. on the calendar so I don’t forget. Plus, I like getting some presents wrapped before Thanksgiving anyway (really, I’d love having them all bought and wrapped), so wrapping a bunch of presents right before Thanksgiving really gets me in the holiday, festive, family spirit…and gives me an excuse to start listening to Christmas music!
Plus, Pen Elaine absolutely LOVES opening a present each morning, and since we’ve already forgotten once to put out the gift the night before, I know that she has reached the age to remember on her own! The night before the first of December, she sweetly requested to “pleeeease tell me what’s in the present?” So far, she has opened our advent calendars (day 1: setup advent calendars), a plastic nativity set and nativity books (day 2: play and talk about nativity story), the three wise men that are part of our other nativity set (plus I threw in some Xmas window decals for Pen Elaine to put where she chose, day 3: talk about wise men’s gifts and Matthew 25:40-go through our toys, books, and clothes to give our own gifts to the less fortunate), and a dress & gloves (that we already owned, day 4: church event for Christmastime)…I scattered some extra Christmas decorations or fun kid-friendly ones along with the advent activity items throughout the presents for added fun factor. For example, my Uncle Christ gave us this set of Disney characters that sing Christmas carols, so on a day when I was just wrapping up a container of salt to make salt dough ornaments, I also wrapped up a caroling Donald duck to make the present more exciting 🙂 Turning decorations and advent calendars into presents to open throughout the month made them much more epic.
This year, she is also opening a door a day in a cardboard advent calendar that I bought after Christmas last year on super sale…which includes chocolate pieces, but the label says that it’s good until March of next year, so far so good!
The one advent calendar that has grown with her since she could walk, is our “love came down” felt pocket calendar, where you simply move a little heart from one pocket to the next. To make it more complicated, last year, I added prophecy verses paired with new testament verses about the different roles and characteristics of Jesus. These are cooler for my Honey and me than Pen Elaine, at this point, but it is neat to see how so many things were prophesied about Jesus’s life so many years before He was born. When our kids get older, talking about these along with the Dead Sea Scrolls will be impactful, I think.