Simplifying Advent

The moment Talitha woke up this morning, before she’d even got out of bed, she asked in the dark (I was still in the bed beneath with Ophelia), “Mummy, can me and Effie open our Advent calendars?”

In years past, I’ve made intricate calendars like this toilet roll tree, complete with an activity planned for each day and a Bible passage.

This year, I spotted standard chocolate Advent calendars at a fundraising fair for Easton Jubilee Trust, a non-profit organisation my brother and my sister-in-law are involved in, and I thought, “Why not?” I’m absolutely certain the kids found these as exciting as any homemade option I could have offered.

We will probably do some form of a Jesse Tree, starting later today (if I can summon the energy) and no doubt we’ll get up to lots of Christmas activities throughout the season but I’m quite relieved not to have tied myself into something intricate this year. I’m intrigued too by the kindness elves but if they make an appearance, it’ll be patchy, and if they don’t, that’s OK too.

Advent offers an easy place to access the salvation story with children. The birth of a baby? They get it, they’re captivated by it. On one hand, I want to make the most of that in the lead up to Christmas, a valuable marker on our calendar as Christians. On the other, they are so good at celebrating all of life – it really doesn’t take much on my part!

I’m enjoying the freedom of “maybe we will, maybe we won’t”, conscious too that what they see in me speaks louder than any Advent calendar could anyway.

Am I longing for Jesus to come or am I distracted? Am I in tune with the suffering in the world or am I insulated in my comfortable lifestyle? Am I doing something with the “love”, “hope” and “peace” we talk and sing about at this time of year or are they just sentimental buzzwords? I have lots of questions of my own in the dark.


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