by Lena Nelson Dooley
Our family has always been big on traditions, especially holiday traditions. And Christmas is my favorite holiday season. We try to put our tree up right after Thanksgiving. I’m allergic to natural evergreens, so we have an artificial tree. After the tree is up and decorated, I change out the CDs in our sound system to Christmas music. Over the years, I’ve added a new Christian Christmas CD most years, so we have quite a collection to choose from, and I’m able to change them out more often, so we’re not listening to the same music long enough to get tired of them. I love Christmas music and we only sing them or listen to them such a short time. So I play the music from Thanksgiving until after New Year’s Day.
When our daughters were young, we started celebrating Advent. We especially liked building memories to make Christmas more special and cement into their hearts the true meaning of Christmas. The anticipation of the coming of Jesus, who came to earth to live as a man, then lay down His life to form a bridge between us and our Father God.
At first, we used Advent calendars for children, the kind made of cardstock. They so looked forward to opening the paper door and seeing what was behind it. We always used whatever materials that came with the calendar, reading a story or something similar to help them understand what was happening.
When they got too old for the calendars, we worked together to create our own Advent wreath. Each Sunday, we would light the correct candle and share the reading for that week. Of course, as we progressed, we also lit the other candles that had been lit the week(s) before. When we finally lit the Christ candle, the full meaning of the season was celebrated.
Our daughters have families of their own now, with grandchildren. And life is often lived at faster pace than when they were home. But I still like to celebrate Advent. I often find new ways to participate, new devotionals to read as we await the celebration of the coming of our Lord to the earth. We know that the date was just chosen, and probably isn’t the exact time of year when He was born, but what’s most important is choosing to celebrate His coming.
Jesus came to earth bringing us gifts—not only salvation, but peace, joy, forgiveness, healing, true love. In the culture today, Christmas has become so commercialized. Don’t misunderstand, I love giving gifts, getting together with friends and family, having Christmas parties, all those things. But I don’t want to get so drawn into the hustle and bustle that I forget about what’s at the heart of Christmas. That’s why we also love and attend as a family the children’s Christmas programs at church. Our church also has a live theater production at Christmas. Then there are the Candlelight and Carols services. All of these are important in my family’s life.
This year, I was privileged to be included in a devotional book that would be perfect for Advent celebration. It contains 21 devotionals written by Christian novelists. Each author wrote a Christmas short story then at the end included a devotional that ties to their story. I’m going to use it for my private, quiet-time celebration of Advent this year. I hope some of you will, too.
Award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has had over 850,000 copies of her books sold. She is a member of ACFW and CAN. She has appeared on CBA Bestseller lists. Her blog, A Christian Writer’s World, received the Readers Choice Blog of the Year Award from the Book Club Network. Lena speaks at women’s groups, writers groups and conferences. She is a co-hosts of the Along Came a Writer blogtalk radio show. Lena has an active web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Linkedin. She lives in Texas with her husband of 51 years.
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