Today we hear from Sara Smith is a member of Holy Family’s Vestry and the Youth and Christian Education Commissions. Here, she offers a reflection on her family’s practice of marking the days of Advent with a simple reading of Scripture using an Advent calendar made with simple materials found around the home. If you have a reflection about your family’s Advent practices and disciplines, let me know! We would love to hear your voice, too.
I love the season of Advent. Its quiet, contemplative pace offers a comforting contrast to the frantic and exhausting American December. I want to share the quiet and the story of Advent with my children, but it can be a struggle to drown out the December frenzy.
As I prepared for Advent last year, I wanted to mark this liturgical season in our home with practices my children could participate in fully. One of the ways we did this was by making our own Advent calendar together. I found excellent inspiration from other moms on Pinterest! I chose from projects that would allow us to mainly use items we had around the house. I especially liked the layout of this one, and the use of liturgical colors on this one, so I combined the two in our version.
The day we worked on the calendar was lovely outside, so the kids and I put on old clothes and smocks, and sat on the ground as we worked together. I found the activity a fun way to talk with them about why we mark this liturgical season; they always love a project and are eager to understand how we practice our faith.
- Acrylic paint
- Paint brushes
- Paper towel tubes, cut in half
- Small clothes pins
- Large stiff board (wood, poster board with foam—like the back of an old science project board
- Bible verses: 1 for each day
- Other small activities/odds and ends for stuffing pockets
Before we painted, I cut the paper towel tubes in half. The kids and I painted a couple of coats on each tube–purple for the first two and the fourth weeks of Advent, and rose, the color of joy for the third, just like the candles on our Advent wreath–and after the paint dried, I stapled them at the bottom and marked a number on each tube “pocket”, starting with Advent 1. I stapled lace fabric scraps to the board, leaving space between staples for the clothespins.
For daily readings, I printed verses relating to birth of Christ from Matthew and Luke, and the first few verses from John. I divided and cut them up into sections that would allow one verse for each day. We folded and placed them into the pockets, and I added small odds and ends to some of the days, like Advent-themed coloring pages.
We placed the board and the wreath made at church on our dining room buffet, along with other Advent resources from Holy Family. On many nights in Advent, my oldest would (try to) read from that day’s verse, with help from one of us. I loved hearing her tiny voice tell the story of the Incarnation, and watching my youngest listen intently. We took down each day’s pocket to help the kids visualize the number of days that remained in the season. Honestly, this didn’t happen every day, or with all family members present each time. Hopefully, though, it happened enough for my kids to feel the quiet, contemplative pace of Advent at home as we waited for the birth of our Lord.