I realized about this time last year that in the middle of all my holiday planning, decorating, baking and wrapping, an amazing opportunity was passing me by. An opportunity that exists every year for about a month.
Having been an Episcopalian most of my life, I knew Advent was the beginning of the Church year, and the season right before Christmas, I had even had an Advent wreath before. However, I'd never been inspired to set aside time with the baintrain to focus on this particular wait. To encourage their relationship with God. To carve out time to be still and be together while preparing for The Gift that's not under the tree. The gift that we all wait for these 4 weeks prior to Christmas.
So, I ordered a book. One written to read chapter by chapter every night during Advent. They ate it up. Not just the book, though it was a great story. Knowing our day would contain lots of goings and comings: school and shopping, music lessons and homework; we all looked forward to our nightly installment. They loved the the time together. And while we didn't do it every single night, there was a palpable hole when we didn't have the 20 minutes together before bedtime. We were forlorn when Advent ended and there wasn't a "reason" to keep our new, read-aloud habit going.
Determined not to be scrounging up a last-minute Advent activity, I found this year's book in June at Goodwill. It's designed the same way, to read a chapter a night with the whole family. I also pre-ordered an Advent wreath from Ann Voskamp's son and tucked it away - knowing the baintrain would love family time that involved fire. Then we added a pot of peppermint tea and a bowl of fresh fruit into the nightly ritual. It's a simple, but effective way to get everyone to be still and listen.
::Family Advent Recipe::
takes about 20 minutes
1 read aloud book, Start with 2nd chapter of St. Luke or download free one here
Candles and or Advent wreath - and something to light them with
Pot of tea or hot chocolate
Freshly peeled tangerines - or your favorite fruit
an extra smidge of patience
About 10 minutes before you want to read, make tea or hot chocolate and prepare fruit. Dim lights and encourage everyone to find a comfy spot. Watch carefully as they light the candles and use a dose of patience while all the wiggles get worked out. Begin reading and don't let any distractions keep you from finishing that night's chapter. At the end of the reading as few nights ago, I asked what's in the presents under the tree, and mexicanjumpingbain stunned me with this response: "LOVE!"
Slow down for 20 minutes and enjoy making an enormous deposit in their heart bank. Not to mention your own...
Jen, Rachel, Kristin, Laura