1.Roman History – ceremonial entry and reception of an emperor, pope, king, or other ruler or religious leader, into a city, town, institution, etc.
2. historical The arrival of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in post-Roman Britain.
Mid 19th century. From classical Latin, adventus approach, arrival.
It’s almost time. Time for the reflection, anticipation, and celebration that mark this special season. Time to remember the first coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ — who humbled himself, became human and walked among those he had come to rescue. Time to look ahead to his second coming — because, let’s face it, this world is so
ready for a repeat. And time to rejoice in his continued presence with us while we await his return.
I love incorporating new advent ideas into our family celebration each year.
Some of the things we’ve done as our children have grown from toddlers to teens include:
- Decorating a Jesus and Me tree, hanging a new advent-related ornament (with an attached Bible verse) each day.
- Unveiling a new daily piece of a Playmobil nativity scene, placing Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning.
- Creating an advent calendar with alternating daily acts of kindness and special outings.
- Including readings and assigned listening to sections of Handel’s Messiah from Cindy Rollins’ book Hallelujah during our morning meetings.
- Following the adventures of the characters in Arnold Ytreeide’s advent books: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, Tabitha’s Travels.
- Playing a different Christmas music CD every day in the early morning hours to help our household ease into the daily routine.
- And always, always, lighting the advent candles.
Several years ago, I was inspired to create my own rustic version of an advent wreath centerpiece using items I gathered from around the house. From my kitchen cabinets, I pulled out a bronze-colored tart pan with fluted edges and arranged five 4-ounce clear glass canning jars inside. Into each jar, I poured some Epsom-salt snow and placed a tea light candle.
I tied purple craft twine around three jars, pink around one jar, and white around the center jar to attach the following Latin labels:
1. Spes (hope)
2. Caritas (love)
3. Gaudium (joy)
4. Pax (peace)
5. Christus (Christ)
And in between and around the jars, I nestled fragrant evergreen trimmings snipped from the wreath on our front door, as well as small pinecones, and decorative berries from wreaths of years past. I loved it so much that now I re-create it every year!
Now that I’m only homeschooling the youngest two of my four children (ages 13 and 15), I’ve been looking for some new advent ideas. I think I’ve settled this year on reading through Henry van Dyke’s The Story of the Fourth Wise Man, as well as studying the history of a selection of Christmas carols.
And, of course, we’ll set up our centerpiece and light our candles each day.
Join the Advent Celebration Challenge
Join the group for Advent prep and celebration check-ins all designed to help us keep our focus on the truth and beauty of the Advent celebration!
Grab the pdf of the Advent schedule in the group to print out and then keep it on the fridge for easy reference and reminders!
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Or, is it? Is it really the most
wonderful horrible time of the year?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…No. It’s. Not. Every stinkin’ Christmas a tragedy occurs- every Christmas, thousands of us die. Do we deserve it? No. Do we like it? No. But do we wish for a different way of life? Um…yes. I have often dreamed of being a rock, cold and smooth. Or a book, treasured and kept safe. Even being a jack-in-the-box looks appealing right now!!! But no. Here I am, just bein’ a tree. A pine tree. A Christmas tree.
Yes, that’s right. I am one of your precious decorations for a holiday; you chopped down my brother last year, my parents the year before, and my girlfriend the year before that. Ellie…she was hot. No, I mean literally. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put candles on the Christmas tree that year, and when Ellie twitched while trying to hold in a sneeze, she caught on fire. And the guilty party did not even have the DECENCY to send a sympathy card!
The Legend of the Mighty Cliff
Legend has it that the very first North American martyr to Christmas was my great-great-great-great-great…y’know what, this will take forever…my extremely great grandfather. (I don’t know why everybody likes him so much, none of us have ever met the guy. How do they know he was so great??) Anyway, his name was Cliff, and he lived a peaceful life filled with simple pleasures; the chatter of squirrels and songs of birds, the fertile earth and sweet breeze.
But then, one day, a wimpy, harmless-looking thing on two spindly legs came and RUINED IT ALL. It used a weird, deceptively tiny INSTRUMENT OF THE DEVIL to chop down my extremely great grandfather Cliff, and after watching him crash to the ground, proceeded to drag him in a very undignified manner through the forest.
They say the angels wept that day. With his dying words, Cliff informed his brethren (via carrier-owl) that the strange little creature had propped his broken body up in its abode, and wrapped him ‘round with impaled little corn-children on a string. The creature hung paper from his branches and crowned him with a golden star; crowned like some pagan king prepared for a sacrifice ritual. I shudder simply thinking about it.
A Reign of Terror
When they heard of this atrocity, the Council of Trees got together (and by got together I mean communicated by owl, since, y’know, we’re kinda stuck). They compiled all of the information gleaned from various informants in the International O24U Association and discovered that the inhumane practice of chopping trees was all the rage in Germany. Many plans were conceived to put this reign of terror to an end. However, by the time a solution was settled upon, the barbaric tradition had spread to the point of no revocation (tree councils are not known for their timeliness, owls and all. Maybe we should look into drones). Since then, all conceivable options to rid the world of this savagery have fallen flat. World domination has been discussed, but the lack of opposable thumbs (in addition to legs, brains, and other useful organs) has proved problematic.
So here I sit, just waiting for fate to laugh evilly and point some merciless wood’s-bane of a human my way. Oh. Oh no. Oh, heck no! Are those…footsteps?? Somebody knock on wood! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!
I see a small female break through the foliage. I breathe a sigh of relief; that little sprout is no match for my brawn! But…I tense as she sucks a greedy portion of air into her lungs.
“DADDYYY!! I FOUND THE PERFECT TREE!!”
Oh, root rot, not another one! Another bumbling happiness-killer ambles into my clearing. And. He. Has. An. AXE! Oh, for the love of all that is green, please keep that thing away from me!! He advances like death itself! I’m comin’ Ellie, I’m comin’! Oh, the humanity! -Or rather…oh the forestry!! SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT!
“Oh Daddy, not that one.” The disgusting little creature wrinkles her nose. “That one.”
I glance behind me in disbelief and see my shaking neighbor, Steve. Might I add that Steve is the single, most annoying tree I have ever…and I do mean ever, met. And he’s not nearly as robust and amply-chlorophylled as I am. You want…HIM?! I gape as Steve is promptly cut down and hauled away. Too late, I yell after them: “HOW VERY DARE YOU!!! I AM CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR TREE HERE!! YOU JUST GIT YERSELF BACK HERE THIS MINUTE OR I WILL PERSONALLY-
About the Author: Emily Wilford is a sixteen-year-old homeschool student. She lives in Iowa, which is always either really hot or really stinkin’ cold. She really likes a lot of stuff, so trust me, I’m sparing you by only listing writing, mythology, Tae Kwon Do, horses, procrastinating, theater, and gazebos. You can usually find her reading a book while hiding in her natural habitat (aka under a blanket), and if not there, she’s probably trying to wrangle her five siblings (it never works, btw). She loves to sketch and listen to music, too; it’s truly amazing she ever gets anything done! Also, she finds it really weird to write about herself in the third person. Emily is part of the True North Homeschool Academy Writing Club and has written previous articles for us, including Creative Writing for Awesome People!
The Holiday Season is hard upon our heels. As our family size shifts and changes with kids launching and significant others joining us, our traditions are changing. Regardless of the natural ebb and flow of family changes, we fill our holidays with the tastes, sounds, sights, and smells of Christmas. This is how we are celebrating Christmas.
TASTE: Food & Drinks
Food often evokes memories, and holiday foods can bring up beloved relatives, now gone and the happy glow of childhood. Green bean casserole was de rigor at my house growing up during the holidays and always served in a huge clay handled and lidded pot we got from Mexico. Mmm! We incorporate old favorites each holiday like deviled eggs. And don’t try to sneak any chic new ingredients in! I want them plain, simple and perfect with just mayo, mustard and a dash of paprika on top. Served up on the green colored Carnival platter, of course.
But we also add in a new recipe or two. While the pumpkin should be traditional, how about bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers to add some zing to the table?
Along with food, we have a tea/coffee and a hot chocolate bar stocked for the holidays with flavored hot chocolates, peppermints, and flavored Keurigs. This can be as fancy or simple as you like but it makes for quick and happy gatherings as those of us in the far north thaw from coming indoors.
We make simple changes throughout the year during different seasons. We have an old shed window pane (sans glass) in the bathroom and have homemade banners swaged across, which we change by season. We go all out at Christmas and swath our three-story 4 x 4 farmhouse in twinkle lights, decorate trees on each floor and bring out homemade treasures that we’ve collected over time.
I add to our mini-stuffed snowman collection throughout the year, and these perch atop windows, nestled in boughs of greenery. We have mini-trees throughout the house as well, some decorated by theme (cowboys, y’all) or color (pink and purple with twinkle lights is an adorable look!). Twinkle lights are everywhere and we often spend holiday evenings chatting with twinkle lights and fire going, making a gentle, cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy the holidays.
SMELLS: Candles & Flowers
With the plethora of essential oils and candles, it’s easy to create scents by seasons. We sprinkle peppermint and evergreen on our fake Christmas tree, creating a subtle and beautiful aroma, while still protecting families from seasonal allergy attacks.
We are suckers for growing things and holidays often find newly potted flowers in our dining room- poinsettias for Christmas, of course, but we love cut flowers too, which are worth buying at least a few times a year. You know the old adage, if you have two loaves of bread, sell on and buy a lily. I take that pretty seriously.
Don’t forget Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments and clove-studded citrus to decorate with. Place them amongst ornaments when you pack them away for subtle and beautiful fragrance when you unpack your treasures the next year.
SOUNDS & More Sights: Music, Videos & Books
Family tradition in our house dictates that Christmas decorating begins the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas music and videos must wait to be watched and listened to until then. However, the day after Christmas you’ll find us bringing down Christmas decorations while playing the Peanuts Christmas album and from then until New Year, we’ll play new and old favorites.
We save seasonal videos and books as well. Each Christmas season we’ll watch The Star, The Nativity, Muppets Christmas, White Christmas, Miracle on 31st street, While You Were Sleeping and other holiday favorites reserved especially for Christmas.
When our kids were young we read Bartholomew’s, Tabitha’s Travels and Johan’s Journey, along with other well-loved Christmas books and while our kids are older now, we do bring these books out each Christmas and stack them around the house. It’s not unusual to find people reading them curled up on a sofa with hot tea or chocolate or even reading them out loud to each other.
And of course, we read the Nativity Story on Christmas Eve, often having attended a candlelight service where we sing beautiful hymns like O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night.
Stockings and Presents & Christmas Morning
We love giving and receiving gifts and I fill the handmade Stockings my Mom and I made with magazine subscriptions, Burt’s Bees, gift cards, gum, and flashlights and batteries.
We’ll eat a simple or fancy brunch, depending on who’s home and who wants to cook what and then we’ll open presents. Some things just happen year after year, like good books and movies, hats and accessories, home-made items and of course, something Peanuts-related. Art and craft supplies always show up; though as my kids have gotten older and their skills have developed, their craft supplies are decidedly more expensive- have you priced a pottery wheel or anvil lately?! An art course would even be a nice touch.
We’ll feast on roast turkey later in the day and then play a board game, read books and watch movies in front of the fire or go on a walk if the weather is nice.
We love the Christmas Holiday season, with all of its sights, sounds, smells and good gifts! What does your family love about celebrating Christmas?