I have written about one of our families Advent Traditions & here I’m going to talk about our Advent Calendar which we’ve used for many years.
While we have done a number of different things for advent over the years, including building a paper chain by adding a link each night with a person to pray for & putting baby Jesus (one of my daughter’s dolls in her dolls cot) under the Christmas tree.
Two Activities have definitely become traditions. The first is reading a story for advent. One year we used Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury for Kids but then I found a series of books by Arnold Ytreeide. I found Bartholomew’s Passage on sale in a local Christian bookstore. When I started looking at it to see if it was suitable to use with my children, I read it in one sitting! Each chapter finishes with a cliff hanger so you want to know what happens next. In the story Bartholomew gets separated from his family. The story is of his adventures until he is reunited with his family in Bethlehem.
All of the books in the series follow the journey of a different child to the birth of Jesus. They all met a man called Nathan, a wise Essene monk who knows about the Messiah’s coming. The children’s paths cross in all of the stories but each story is just following the main character of that book. At the end of each chapter is a reflection with a question.
There is a chapter each day for the first 3 weeks of advent & then depending on what day of the week Christmas Eve is you read 1-7 small sections each day of the last week of advent. For this year with Advent being on a Sunday you would read the last section all in one day. Then there is a final chapter for Christmas Day.
To be honest there have been many times when we have been catching up on missed chapters by reading an extra chapter or two. Or reading the book in the car on the way somewhere or reading a chapter or 2 at Grandma’s. Many Christmas Eve’s have found us reading the book at the back of the church while my husband sets up the Data Projector for the Christmas Eve Service. And occasionally we have finished the story after Christmas Day but that’s ok.
We actually read Bartholomew’s passage for 4 or 5 years in a row as all of the books were out of print. I had seen one of the others in a Christian bookstore but didn’t buy it at the time. My family was happy to read the same book, they liked it that much.
Once the books were reprinted we have continued reading one each year for about 13 years. They’ve been keen to hear what happens to all of the children & try to remember how their journeys cross. We only got Ishtar’s Odyssey last year, as it is a newer addition to the series. I’m not sure that we’ll read them as a family anymore, as my children are much more independent now. Having read them from when my son was 4 until my daughter was 18, I can say that these books are great for any age. I cannot recommend this series of books enough.
Are there any particular stories your family likes for Advent?
In my next post I’ll talk about our Advent Calendar, the other Advent Activity that has stood the test of time.
We want to pass our faith onto our children. This post by Sam Luce reminded me that I had started the following post but never published it. When my daughter graduated from high school at the end of 2015 we presented her with a Bible. This was a journalling Bible that I had highlighted verses in and written messages & prayers for her over the year or so before we gave it to her. My husband had also added to it a bit. We also asked 7/8 women from church and a few other special people to highlight verses and write in it as well.
As you can see from the pictures above there is a mix of drawing and writing. Some people wrote about the same verses as others or added to what was already highlighted, so whole sections became highlighted.
I’m not sure how many of the highlighted passages my daughter has found yet or how many she has read. I figure that it is something that she will have to look back on, at the right time. I do know that this is the Bible that she takes on camps with her now.
Why am I writing about this now? We are doing the same for my son who graduates from High School in about 6 months time. (Shh, don’t tell him. Not that I think he reads my blog.) He may have some idea that this is happening as he knows about his sister’s Bible. We will get some of the men from church to highlight their favourite passages and write messages.
I wish I had started the process earlier but only came across the ideas less than 2 years before my daughter finished High School.
How have you celebrated your child’s graduation? How are you attempting to pass on faith to your children?
Recently I tried a new spiritual practice with my family in our regular after dinner devotion time. We read the Bible as per normal but then I asked everyone to get their phones. Normally phones would not be at the table during dinner or devotion time. As my children are both in their later teen years they both have smartphones. After explaining that we were going to use different sections on the phone for a minute each to help with individual, silent prayer; I set the timer on my phone & we began.