What is advent?

It’s a beginning.
An arrival.
An anticipation.

All for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

And we celebrate it by pulling tootsie rolls and sticks of gum out of numbered felt squares.

Really? That’s the best we can do?

Imagine anticipating the homecoming of a loved one from the war overseas and celebrating that anticipation by shoe shopping on day 1, getting a pedicure on day 2, and so on. All to express your love and unbridled joy at greeting your dear one.

Well when you put it that way… My point exactly!

So it was as my husband and I were discussing ways we could increase Christ and decrease Santa ( sorry chubbo) that we came up with the idea of doing an advent calendar in reverse.

Yep. Instead of getting shiny chocolate kisses for each day we draw closer to our Savior’s birth, we as a family, come up with one way of blessing someone else that day.

Now granted our lives are a little hectic right now with three small kids including a 2-week old, so while we hope to do more in the years to come, we’re keeping the ideas extra simple and surprisingly enough…it doesn’t take all that much to make a persons day.

Here are some of the things we have marked on our homemade advent calendar:

Day 1: Levi drew a picture for our elderly neighbor who has just lost her husband to cancer, he carried it over and took a few moments to chat with her.

Day 2: Mabry helped me bake banana bread–she’s is the worlds greatest masher–for another neighbor.

Day 3: On Sunday, Noah handed the baby to a lovely woman in our church. With everyone itching to hold a newborn and mommy and daddy wanting to keep him close, it was a real treat for her. Her ear to ear grin the entire time nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Days 4 & 5: Lastly, while out with his grandma at a taco joint, Levi asked an older gentleman if he could throw his trash away for him. Imagine finishing your meal only to have a five-year-old offer to whisk away your trash. (I love that he had this idea all on his own!) And the following day, he filled the wood box next to the stove, then swept the dirt he had tracked in and even offered to mop! All to bless his mommy. My heart melted when Noah came home and secretly told me that I was the recipient of the advent blessing that day.

I love that our children are learning at a young age to serve others, and they’re doing it so joyfully. I’m excited to see what ideas we continue to come up with this advent season. And even more excited when I hear him say “Jesus is the reason for the season,” each time he finds a way to bless someone.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Photo credit: The Nativity Story, 2006