Monday, November 28, 2011

Gearing Up for Advent

For the past few years now, I've found myself less able to answer the question of, "What do you want for Christmas?"  Sure, there are always those dream items that we really can't afford (new laptop, dress form, serger, etc) but I'm taking more joy out of giving gifts than receiving these day.  I guess that's why the Advent Conspiracy really spoke to me this year.  Our church has played videos from this movement for the past two years, but this is the first year that it truly resonated with me.  For those of you who haven't heard about the Advent Conspiracy, here's the video our church showed this year.  It's by far my favorite one.

In that spirit, Nathan and I decided that we are going to cut back on the gift buying, the stress, the consumerism...we have decided that we want to raise our sons to know the TRUE meaning of CHRISTmas.  Not saying my parents did anything wrong in raising me, but seeing as how we weren't Christians for a majority of my childhood, Christ was pretty well absent from the celebration of his birth.  Christmas was all about the tree, the cookies, and the presents...lots and lots of presents.  Looking back, I can honestly say that there weren't many Christmas mornings that I would look at the pile of gifts surrounding me and feel satisfied.  Even then, I think I knew that something was missing.

I don't want my sons to feel that way, ever.  I want them to great each Advent season in the humble knowledge that Christ left Heaven and his Father to be born in such a humble way, knowing full well the pain and scorn he would have to endure for our sakes.  I want them to know that they've already received the best gift possible, and that everything else pales in comparison.

With that in mind, I set out to create a new family Advent Calendar.  Nathan got me a Silhouette SD machine for my birthday this year, and I have already used the heck out of it.  Using that, I put together and decorated the below calendar.

I had so much fun putting it together.  I feel like kind of a fraud, talking about wanting to avoid the consumerism and yet here I am gushing about my Silhouette.  But really, it's AWESOME!  I've used it for a ton of different kinds projects and the level of intricacy it can manage is amazing.  Even Nathan was impressed.

Anyway, I wanted to make this new Advent calendar all about family and giving.  Each day would have an activity we will do as a family.  Some of them will be things around the house, others will get us out of the house and giving back to the community.  With help from Nathan, friends, family, and several different blogs, we put together the below list of activities.  Feel free to steal ideas if you want, I quite obviously don't have the copyright on this idea.  ;-)

1st- Send Operation Christmas Child shoe box
2nd - Make scrabble
3rd - Decorate house
4th - Put up lights on outside of house
5th - Make paper snowflakes
6th - Write letter to soldier
7th - Buy gift for Angel Tree
8th - Get new Christmas CD
9th - Get Christmas tree from Janzen farm
10th - Decorate Christmas tree
11th - Make cookies
12th - Sponsor World Vision child
13th - Buy toy for Sheriff's Office toy drive
14th - Go to small group Christmas Party
15th - Have pancakes for dinner (in shape of Christmas trees!)
16th - Make salt dough thumb print ornaments
17th - Take box of needed items to Ronald McDonald house, then to Mt. Hood to visit Nana & Grandpa and go sledding
18th - Have dinner with Gigi & Papa
19th - Have big breakfast as a family
20th - Make hot cocoa with all the fixings
21st - Make special gift for Daddy
22nd - Get cocoa at Dutch Bros and go on a Christmas light drive
23rd - Read the Christmas story
24th - Have a Christmas movie party in new PJ's
25th - Go to Christmas service, then celebrate Christmas Day with the family!

We're pretty darn excited about this list, and I'm actually looking forward to this Christmas season for a change.  I have a lot of my Christmas presents make, with just a few more to go.  My goal is to get them all done by the end of the first week of December, so that I have the rest of the Advent to focus on family.