We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT
Years ago, I sewed a calendar for us to use during the month of December, a sort of cloth advent calendar. Each day from December 1—24 we had a pocket where we slipped activities. Each year the kids take turns adding activities and placing them inside, including static dates like concerts, exchanges, time with extended family, etc. With other dates, we added things like cookie making. Then every day, we pull out slips of paper and do the things they say. Not only does this keep things organized, but there’s also an anticipation of what’s coming next, a way to look forward to the whole month, not just the few days prior.
You can create something similar by using small envelopes on a poster board. Then have the kids brainstorm ideas to place on small slips of paper. Here are some of ours:
• Read the Christmas story in several gospels over the course of several days.
• Read a favorite Christmas book. (Since we have several, this accounts for many pieces of paper.)
• Sing a Christmas carol into someone else’s voice mail.
• Make paper snowflakes.
• Drive around the community to see the lights.
• Go Christmas caroling.
• Make hot chocolate with mint. (Add ½ tsp mint extract to your existing cup.)
• Make Christmas cookies.
• Take a walk outside and gather branches for the mantle.
• Wrap presents.
• Send Christmas cards.
• Pray for the people who sent you Christmas cards today.
• Make Christmas gifts (usually food like apple butter, spice mixes, homemade hot chocolate mix).
• Attend a community concert.
• Go on a carriage ride. (They have these in our non-snow community. No sleigh rides in Texas!)
• Host a cookie exchange.
• Read the Isaiah prophecies about Jesus.
• Share one thing you’re thankful for over the past year.
• Decorate the Christmas tree.
• Risk your life and hang lights outside. (Our roof has an extremely steep pitch.)
In light of all this, it’s important, too, that you offer yourself grace tucked into those envelopes. There are days we’ll pull out, “Make paper snowflakes,” and none of us are excited about it or are too busy with other things. Simply place that in a new date or throw it away! The holidays are meant to be cherished; Advent is meant to be savored. It’s a time of preparing our hearts for Emmanuel, God with us. So we may plan our days, but give God permission to interrupt you at will. It’s Him whom we celebrate anyway.
Jesus, help our family prepare well for your coming this Christmas. Whatever method You bring our way, we want to honor You, be responsive to You and learn the art of cherishing You as we near Your birthday.