Three Simple Advent Traditions
Snow has fallen and has covered the ground. Christmas is on the way. What is it about this season that is so magical? Why does it touch my heart even now as an adult?
My mother’s favorite holiday is Christmas, and as a child, she filled my life with Christmas spirit. And by filling my life, I mean, she packed it in everywhere. We made our own manger scenes, we decorated the house full of lights, we made a new Christmas ornament every single year, we participated in the Christmas play at church, we hosted Christmas parties, we dressed up in new Christmas finery. We even went Christmas caroling. We did it all.
So when I became an adult, I thought the only way to do Christmas was to replicate my childhood experience.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for my memories. I love everything about them. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I couldn’t do what my mom did for me.
And that’s okay.
My kids won’t get the magical Christmas I got. Instead, they will get the Christmas narrative in the way my husband and I can give it.
What can we do for them? We can give them a simplified Christmas tradition based on three truths from the first Christmas that help us to experience Christmas through all five senses.
God Humbled Himself
Sense of Sight and Touch
God Himself came to earth to live with us, to experience life, to face trials, to shine His truth, to bring serve.
“Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:7
God did not start His journey on Earth easily. While He was in utero, He was made to travel across the country to fulfill the prophecy that He would be born in Bethlehem. He was born in the midst of animals, outside in a small, overcrowded city.
God could have made this whole experience easier, on Himself and on all those involved. But in His sovereignty, He shaped and molded Mary and Joseph, His obedient servants, into His likeness while they carried and protected Him as a baby.
God made Himself so small and vulnerable that He had to put on clothes, He had to be fed, He had to be rocked and snuggled.
As He grew, I’m sure His friends teased Him and hurt His feelings. I’m sure he had some contagious belly laughs and burped.
I’m sure Jesus had to take a bath and clean under His fingernails. Jesus probably got splinters and twisted His ankle.
Jesus was a kid like we know kids. And yet His divinity was not compromised. He is God, and this kid came to save us.
In honor of Jesus coming as a baby, we read picture books about Christmas. We snuggle up together and look at the pictures. We also read the story from the Bible.
Jesus Came Into An Occupied Land
Sense of Smell and Taste
It didn’t matter that Jesus was born into a war-torn kingdom. He still brought peace. The angels declared to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:14
It was not long after that pronouncement of peace did Jesus’ family flee with Him into Egypt to protect Him from Herod. The peace of God was present on earth, but to protect that peace, Joseph took his family into hiding.
Living in peace does not mean that we live in a quiet country where everyone gets along. Jesus, God Himself, did not live in that situation. Yet His peace did not come from His surroundings. His peace came from within, and He spread this peace to those around Him.
In honor of Jesus bringing peace to Earth, we try to bring peace to our neighbors. We want to be people of peace, so we bake cookies and deliver them with a smile and “Merry Christmas.”
Honestly, I always stress out baking cookies with my kids (one year I accidentally quadrupled the recipe instead of doubling it), but it’s always worth it when we get to connect with our community.
Jesus Is Worthy to Be Worshipped, Then and Now
Sense of Sound
The shepherds, the angels, Simeon and Anna all worshipped this little boy. This little boy who couldn’t talk or walk yet. This little boy who was 100% God lit up the sky with a star so that men traveled for two years following it to worship Him.
This little boy would offer His life as the final Passover Lamb three decades later to save the whole world. The shepherds didn’t know that. Simeon and Anna were waiting for the salvation of Israel and knew that this baby was God’s plan. They may not have realized that He was the plan for the whole world.
Because Jesus is worthy to be worshipped, that’s what we do now. We sing Christmas carols together in the dark by the Christmas tree. We sing with all our hearts during the Advent services, and we crank up the Christmas tunes on the radio.
If this is all we do during this Advent season, it will be a memorable Christmas. Of course, we will have the tree and the Christmas lights. Of course, we will have the yummy food and some presents.
But even without that, Christmas will still feel like Christmas because we will celebrate Jesus’ birth through these three traditions: Stories, Cookies, and Songs.
Gianna Kordatzky has been a part of the First Free family since 1997. She graduated from Northwestern College (now University of Northwestern–St. Paul) in 1999 with a B.A. in youth ministry which prepared her and her husband, Chris, to raise four amazing kids. She is one of the founders of Family Fun Twin Cities and the Moms in Prayer leader for Bel Air Elementary in New Brighton. Gianna is passionate about serving families whether she is volunteering with New Life Family Services in St. Paul or overseas at the ELIC conference.