Help Your Family Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas
By Amanda DeWitt
Children stand wide-eyed, admiring oversized evergreens lit up with twinkling lights, icicles, and ornaments. Store widows and online shops feature the best gifts for everyone on your list. Holiday parties and family activities fill up every weekend on the calendar.
With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy to overlook the wonder of God with Us. We can get so focused on the glittery, gifts, and gatherings that we seldom pause to consider His coming.
Advent helps change our focus. It calls us to celebrate the simple things, to teach our families the true meaning of the season, and to share the good news of great joy to everyone around us.
What Is Advent?
Advent simply means “coming.” It refers to both the first and second coming of Jesus. As we reflect on His birth in a humble manger, we are reminded He is coming again as a glorious King. It gives us perspective, purpose, and hope.
The season of Advent includes the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each Sunday marks a new theme for the week.
Why It Matters
In a world filled with busyness, it is easy to let the shopping and celebrations consume our focus. Sometimes without even realizing it, the baby in a manger gets pushed to the side — or relegated to a single Christmas Eve story.
Advent calls us to reorient our gaze. It creates space for us to consider Jesus’ humble birth in a manger, to poor parents, announced to simple shepherds. It helps us realize that sometimes the most significant things in life are the small, uncelebrated ones we nearly overlook.
As we reorient our gaze we often need to reorganize our priorities. We start to recognize the gifts do not matter as much as we thought. The decorations will be packed away soon. The kindness we share, the conversations we engage in, and the small memories we make last longer and mean more.
Then it reminds us what truly matters. Advent calls us to look deeply into our loved ones faces. It invites us to slow down and savor a small moment in time when we sense God’s presence with us. It summons us to live out our faith in tangible ways that transform us and impact others.
When we keep the right focus during Advent, we are more able to celebrate fully, engage our families, and share hope with others.
Ways to Celebrate
Celebrating Advent together can be simple. Be creative and have fun.
Here are four activities you can do as a family to help keep your focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
- Serve together. Jesus’ mission in His first coming was to serve humanity. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. We have the opportunity to demonstrate His kindness to others. Do you have a neighbor with a tangible need you can meet? Is there a way you can serve your community? Does your local church provide opportunities to help those in need during the holiday season? Sit down as a family and come up with one way you will serve someone this Christmas.
- Give to others. God loved us so much that He gave. It is the very heart of Advent. And He calls us to do the same. Can you help provide Christmas gifts for a family in need? Can you provide a holiday meal for someone struggling to make ends meet? Can you share your resources to help relieve suffering in the toughest places? Consider one way you can give generously this holiday season.
- Count down. With all the expectation and excitement, help your children enjoy the season by counting down until Christmas. Make a paper ornament each day, from December 1 through December 24. Make a paper chain and take off one link for each day leading up to Christmas. Use the activity with your children as an opportunity to discuss one thing you are grateful for during this season. Or read a Bible verse about the Christmas story and talk about it. A simple, daily activity and conversation are a great way to set the tone for your day and keep you focused on what really matters.
- Light Advent candles. Christians have been celebrating Advent for centuries. In the late 1800s a German minister created the first Advent wreath. Over time the Advent wreath, and corresponding candles, came to symbolize the life and light Jesus brought at Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent set aside a few minutes with your family to reflect on the weekly theme (listed above). You will notice that the five candles of the Advent wreath correspond closely to the themes in the Unto® Field Guide to Advent. You may wish to make your own Advent wreath, purchase one, or simply use the candles as part of your weekly time together. Take a few minutes to read the corresponding weekly devotional in the Field Guide to Advent (you can download it for free using the link below). If your children are old enough, let each person participate. Start with the Reading section as someone reads aloud the weekly Bible verses. Let someone else read the Reflection devotional section. Then talk about your answers to the Response questions. At the end of your time, light the corresponding candle and invite someone to pray. This simple activity can be done in about 10 minutes. If you have older children, you may wish to spend more time in discussion. Use the time to set the tone for your family’s week as you focus on hope, faith, joy, peace, or love.
This Christmas look for ways to help your family celebrate Advent together and stay focused on the true meaning of the season.
Download the Field Guide to Advent
Amidst the busyness of the Christmas season, set aside a few minutes to reflect on the true meaning of Jesus’ coming. Our Field Guide to Advent provides you with weekly devotionals to help you reflect on the hope, faith, joy, peace, and love of Christmas. Each devotional includes a Scripture reading, brief commentary, and reflection questions. It can be used for individual study or incorporated into your family or small group time.
Published November 1, 2022
Amanda is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Gift for Leadership, Kindred Spirit, and Christianity Today publications. She holds a M.A. in Media and Communication from Dallas Theological Seminary.