This was the very first year either Danny or I celebrated advent. Some of you may think we are crazy, but let me explain.
We both grew up in homes where Father was loved and served. We participated in Christmas plays, services, etc... and deeply loved it. We always understood the Reason for the Season and were thrilled about celebrating with our families every year! But we never went through the Advent ideas and traditions. I decided that it was something I wanted our family to participate in together. I can't tell you how EXCITED I am for this next month of teaching Sitora all about the True Meaning of Christmas and celebrating together as a family several times every week!
I've decided to use a 12 day approach and do it every other day or so until Christmas arrives. That way we won't be doing something every single night (many nights we are doing youth group activities). I had so much fun planning our first night's activities and I thought I'd share them with you all!
We colored pictures of angels and The Baby born in Bethlehem. The website I used followed a plan spelling out the Alphabet, so this lesson was A and B (angels and baby).
We lit the first candle to celebrate the start of Advent- there are four weeks before Christmas so we'll light another candle once a week for four weeks. Danny read scriptures and then we prayed together.
We sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" since it went with the "Angel" theme for the day.
Next came the Advent Calendar! We let Sitora find her first present in the door marked with a "1". We started a little early (we should have waited until December 1st) but I could hardly wait to let her try it for the first time! We'll skip a few days so that we get back on track.
She got a piece of chocolate for her first gift and wanted to share it with Daddy. We explained that The Baby was the best gift in the whole world Father could give to us! Giving gifts for the Christmas season is a way to show how wonderful gifts can be.
Sitora loved trying to open all the doors, although there weren't any more gifts behind the other doors :)
Unto us a Child is born!
I can't wait to go through all the planned lessons with Sitora this Advent. It is so incredibly fun to teach Sitora about the True Meaning of Christmas as a family, as apposed to just waiting until the Christmas Eve Service. That way, the season is more special as we learn about The Baby and His gift of life given to us, instead of focusing on presents and wrapping all season.
I'm going to touch on another subject now. I will not be telling Sitora that Santa Clause is real. We have many Christmas books about Santa and stuffed animals and decorations with Santa on them, which is fine with me. I have before and will continue to let her sit on Santa's lap. But I will explain to her that Santa Clause is an idea originated from St. Nicholas, and I will happily tell her the story of the generosity and love St. Nick bestowed in times past. But I will not lie to my daughter and tell her Santa Clause us real. I'm not judging anyone else who does this- it is just Danny and my decision as parents. If I'm teaching Sitora stories from the bible about Father one day, then telling her tales of Santa Clause the next, how is she supposed to comprehend if what comes out of my mouth is true or not in the years to come? The line between truth and fantasy can become blurred amidst tales and stories. I want Sitora to trust every word that comes from my mouth. When I tell her about Father who loves her deeply and how He sent His Son for her, I want her to believe me. If she finds out Santa isn't real, she may become confused as to what is true or fiction in the stories we tell her in life.
When I was a small child, I sat on Santa's lap at the mall. I was so excited that my heart was bursting with joy! I had been hoping for this one special doll that drank water, cried real tears, and filled her diaper. Santa's rolly-polly body was warm and snuggly as I sat upon His comfy lap. I looked up at his sparkly eyes as He asked, "Ho Ho Ho little girl, what do you want for Christmas this year?" I smiled dreamily and told him about the special doll. He remarked, "Sorry kid. The elves said there are no more of those dolls in the workshop." He then put me down and sent me on my merry little way. Tears streamed down my face as I walked away in disappointment and bewilderment. I really don't want Sitora to experience something like this. I will tell her to be careful and not spoil it for other children who do believe in Santa, but I will tell her the truth.
In conclusion, I am absolutely elated for the rest of Advent! Of course we will buy presents for our family and friends- I am a huge gift giver and am crazy about finding presents for the ones I love!!! But more importantly, I am deeply concerned about instilling the truth in Sitora's heart about Christmas, amidst the carols, bells, presents, and mistletoe. As the years go by I pray Sitora remembers everything we've taught her and comprehends the wonderful love of Father.