Christmas arrives each year in retail stores before Halloween has left the shelves. Christmas music is often heard after Thanksgiving.
The familiar song, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is one of many you’ll hear playing in an attempt to get you to spend money and get in the Christmas spirit.
In Catholic families and many other Christian families, Advent comes before Christmas. The liturgical season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day and lasts through Christmas Eve.
Unlike the traditional calendar which begins on January 1 each year, the liturgical calendar begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
Although you might get some strange looks, it would be totally appropriate to wish friends and family members a Happy New Year on Advent Sunday.
Advent is a season of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Advent is also a time to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ and to reflect on the presence of Jesus in our lives.
During Advent, Christian families are called to participate in prayer, fasting and repentance in preparation for the birth of Christ. This is quite different from the commercial season of Christmas and not always an easy concept for kids to understand.
You may display an Advent wreath with four candles in your home. You will also find Advent wreaths in many Christian churches, but you won’t find Advent wreaths as you are out Christmas shopping.
One candle on the Advent wreath is lit each week as the family members or members of the church reflect on our call to be light for the world. In some faiths, a fifth candle is added in the center to reflect the light of Christ.
Displaying an Advent wreath and reflecting on the Advent readings each day is one way to prepare for the coming of Jesus on Christmas.
In many Christian families, the Nativity scene is placed on display before the Christmas tree and other Christmas decor items are displayed.
Another way to prepare for Christ’s birth is to give to others. You don’t have to be a Christian to give to others but all Christian faiths teach that giving to others is central to living the message of Jesus Christ.
Many retail locations and nearly all churches participate in giving tree progams. Giving trees are provided through the Salvation Army, churches and other charitable organizations.
By taking a name of a person in need from a giving tree at a local store or mall and purchasing a gift for the person, you are teaching your children to be Christ for others.
As you prepare for Christmas, allow time for quiet reflection each day, give to others in need, light the Advent wreath at meals and read the daily Advent readings as a family.
Following these Christian traditions will make your home and family look a lot like Advent. Christmas will arrive whether or not you are prepared and so will Jesus Christ.