Mothers are often called the “heart of the home.” Moms organize, plan, and execute so many things inside the home, so it’s no wonder we’re called the heart. After years of waiting, I finally became a mother for the first time in 2017. Naturally, Christmas was at the top of my list of one of the most exciting holidays to share with my new baby. I knew all her excitement and wonder at the lights and gifts would be so fun.
This article was written for and originally published in the Gospel Messenger VOL 97 NO. 1 Winter 2021-22.
I was so excited about her first Christmas that I started planning it before she was born. Yes, I’m a planner, and I usually like to make holidays and special occasions extra special. I first went to Pinterest, aka the best app ever, to begin my planning.
I started planning all the things we could do and see, but the importance of Christmas hit me at that moment. I was going to be a mother, and I had to teach my children about Jesus. Not just some passing thought about the season, but mine and my husband’s responsibility to disciple them and make Jesus known struck me.
Suddenly my thoughts about Christmas for my baby changed. I wanted to make sure she knew the reason we were celebrating. What would I want her to remember about Christmas? How would I teach her about Jesus? So many questions began running through my mind. The responsibility of raising her to know Jesus beyond presents and lights became evident.
Deuteronomy 6:7 gives us an example of when we should teach our children the commandments. While this is from the Old Testament, it is applicable for us today: “You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Advent provides a framework to teach our children more about the birth of Jesus while we “sit in our house.”
The word Advent means “coming” in Latin. Through Advent, we use the four Sundays and weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare and remind our kids of the meaning of Christmas. Each Sunday, we come together as a family for a meal and light that week’s candle. We read scripture and talked about the meaning of the candle for the week. The following nights we continue to light the candle at dinner and recite our memory verse together.
Advent helps our family focus on Jesus together during a busy season that we can so easily get distracted. I realized it is so important to start these lessons as early as possible. Children are important; Jesus taught us that lesson (Matthew 19:14). Studies show that our behaviors and views are usually developed when we are young, preteen young. Most Americans “make a lasting determination about the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by age 12” (Barna.com).
While Advent is only four weeks, it was a great start for our family to begin discipling our young children because starting now is what matters. I wanted to find creative ways to share Advent and make Christmas memorable through our family traditions. After studying Advent, its history, and its purpose, I decided to create a guide for us to use each year.
Once I began creating this tool for my own family, I thought others might find it beneficial. So, in 2020, I made the Advent at Home guide filled with instructions for Advent, memory verses, crafts, and more intended to use for our family. I shared it with others, and since then, over 1000 families and groups have used the guide to help their families focus on Jesus during Christmas. I know the guide has helped my family focus on Jesus during Christmas, and I pray it has others as well.
When my children grow up, I don’t want them to think of me as the heart of the home. Instead, I want them to know that Jesus is the heart of our home just as we light the center candle of our Advent wreath for Him. He holds our family together, not me. He leads their daddy, not me. Jesus is most definitely the heart of Christmas, and I also want Him always to be the heart of our home.