Bringing joy and meaning back into the season

28 November 2016

christmas-1078274_640Do you ever find yourself dreading the Christmas season? Do your kids morph into “gimme, gimme” monsters who are focused solely on what they can get? Is stress the biggest impression that you are left with?

When I had my daughter, I was determined to change this in my own life. I didn’t want her to associate Christmas with an irritable, overly busy mother and a focus on what she wanted to get. I realised that the lead up to Christmas was where the changes needed to be made.

woman-1148923_640I discovered Advent. If you grew up in traditional church settings, you may know about Advent. Advent was a new idea to me. It has become a time to instil joy, family values and a heart for others. For me it is a time to prepare my heart for Christmas, a time to think about what the birth of Jesus means to me and reflect on my faith.

If you are tired of the commercialism of the season, would you consider giving Christmas a new meaning, starting with Advent? Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas or on December 1st depending on your tradition. It is more than opening a chocolate each day!

schutzengelchen-1690635_640-croppedOur Advent has looked different each year as we add in new elements and adjust to my daughter’s growth and understanding. There are some key elements that we always include:

Kindness Angel: a way to inject fun into each day (similar in some ways to Elf on the Shelf but without the mischief and self-focus). I came across the Kindness Elves and loved the focus on bringing joy to others: like donating old toys or making cookies for your neighbours. I didn’t have an elf but we did have an angel doll so in our house we have a Kindness Angel. I don’t try to do an activity everyday but aim for at least twice a week. The Kindness Elves have an Instagram account where you can go for great ideas.

Truth in the Tinsel: This fabulous e-book has provided a wonderful way of presenting the Christmas story to my daughter through simple story and craft activities. Last year, we used it every day of Advent and decorated a little tree with the ornaments my daughter made. I am so excited to be doing this again.

nativity-img_2349-smlLittle People Nativity Set: I have my special nativity set for decoration. This is, of course, not for playing with! However, we found a Little People Nativity Set the year my daughter was born and we bring it out each year. She loves to re-enact the story of Jesus’ birth with this set.

candle-1750640_640-croppedAdvent candles: Last year began the tradition in our house of lighting Advent candles. It is not a long process but a significant time of coming together and remembering what is important to us as a family. My daughter is the first to remind me to light them and asks everyday if it is time to light them yet.

 

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I know that the concept of Advent may seem overwhelming in the midst of an already crowded schedule. I have slowly added activities over the years. I start planning in November and try to keep focused on what I want to achieve and stay flexible around that. The point is to share the meaning of Christmas and help my daughter to see the joy in giving, not to increase the pressure and stress of the season.

As we approach Christmas, what will you do differently this year? How will you explore your values with your children and help them to see how they can contribute to the lives of others?

Jodi Koepke

WA State Coordinator

Jodi writes at www.jokoepke.com with the aim of encouraging and inspiring fellow women, parents and leaders in leading themselves, their families and in their area of influence.

 

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