by: Kristina Phelan (mamabearmoxie.com)
I was born into a family of longstanding tradition and religion. I was raised in a home that shared a Communion Cup on holidays, prayed before dinner every night, and attended church on a regular basis. I have very vivid and fond memories of attending Christmas Eve service every year as a little girl. My younger sisters and I would get all dressed up in our prettiest dresses with matching lace trimmed socks and sit in the front row of our church while my parents sang in the choir. It was a special time and there was always something so magical, so different, in the air. Maybe it was the anticipation of Santa Claus but I believe that it was the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention all of those years.
My family had an advent calendar when I was growing up and I remember my mom being in charge of doing the calendar with us. However, as the years passed and we three girls grew older, the advent calendar fell to the wayside. Every year around November I start to see the paper advent calendars in stores and wonder if this will be the year that I finally do one with my own growing family. But then I see that these calendars are definitely not family friendly when there is only one piece of candy per day. I mean, really, how I am supposed to cut a peppermint three ways?
A few years ago my friend came up with the great idea to make her own advent calendar. She was smart enough to realize that she didn’t want to do it all herself so she asked friends if they would be interested in doing it along with her. Every year she asks 24 friends, (yes, she has a lot of friends), to supply 24 little gifts. Nothing big or extravagant. Just 24 small gifts individually wrapped. Then, each friend is assigned a number for the corresponding date in December. She gathers all of the 24 friend’s 24 gifts and then makes a group for each friend who participate, plus her own on Christmas day, to make up the days prior to Christmas.
The hardest part of the advent calendar is figuring out what to give. This year I am making 24 crocheted flower bookmarks. I am also planning on putting a little note with my gifts and a bible verse to share with the other ladies in the group. Some of the gifts are as simple as a few pieces of chocolate, to a tube of chap stick, to stickers, to homemade jewelry. You never really know what is in the gift until you open it and the anticipation just about kills my kids every year.
I unload the advent calendar gifts into my punch bowl that sits on the dinner table during December. Every night one of us gets to open the gift that corresponds to the date. It has become a fun tradition to count down the days until Christmas.
But do you know that I love most about it? I love that there are 25 other families doing the advent calendar with us. I love that I get to give a small gift to someone, that I probably don’t even know, and speak into their lives, even if it is through one little bookmark. In this race called motherhood it is so easy to feel like we are drowning in the chaos of parenting, kiddos, and life. The advent calendar reminds me to pause and reflect on the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to remember that I am not in this motherhood stage of life alone.
And, if I can teach my kids something along the way, that’s just an added bonus.
Kristina Phelan is a freelance writer that lives on a small farm in the Midwest with her husband, three kiddos, and too many chickens. Her newspaper column, Mama Bear Moxie, is featured in a few publications across the country. Find out more about her by visiting www.mamabearmoxie.com.