Last week I had the blessing of speaking to Hosanna! Lutheran church in Lakeville, MN. We had a candid conversation (okay … it was mostly one-sided) about Advent. You might already know that the Latin definition of Advent is “to come to.” Of course we are meant to be celebrating and anticipating the night when Christ came to us and – glory of glories – the day when He will come again!

There’s another interpretation of “to come to” though. A patient needs to “come to” after he or she has been sedated for surgery. I don’t know about you, but I have a particularly hard time “coming to” after a Sunday afternoon-post Viking loss-nap.

Though there is nothing Biblical about these last definitions, I think there is some wisdom in blending them all. You see, I could easily become lulled into a state of semi-consciousness this Advent season and go through the motions of shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, sending Christmas cards, making lists … In fact, I could drop into a Christmas Coma and miss spending any time giving thought to the incarnate Christ who came to Earth on a wild rescue mission. Friends, I need to COME TO! I need to wake up and use the next four weeks paying attention to what God has done and is doing in my life. I need to realize that this whole thing isn’t about me. What’s more, I need to communicate in a gracious and loving way that this isn’t about my children either.

This last little bit of information is the hardest pill to swallow (for all of us) because, frankly, I’ve led them to believe it actually IS all about them, for many years. I’ve done this by focusing on meeting all of their WANT lists, cleverly disguised as letters to Santa.

We are being intentional this year. Oh, I’m not clever. Please give me no credit for these ideas. I’ve stored up ideas for the last year and then some and most have come from other wise, clever women. That means, everything here is fair game. You can use any of it – or all of it – and call it your own.

We started by setting the stage for Advent. Our Thanksgiving table was decked with an empty wicker cornucopia and we asked all of our guests to fill it with things that represented what they were most thankful for this year.  (We’ll be doing this every time Thanksgiving is hosted at my house now … guests be warned.) Then a week later we celebrated my birthday doing random acts of kindness for others. (Another tradition we will be repeating! You can read about it here.) And now there’s Advent …

We have 2 big focuses this year …

  1. How we are giving gifts
  2. Our Advent Calendar – Hanging Garland

Gifts are simple. Our kids will each get …

  1.  Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something they can wear
  4. Something they can read


Period. That’s it. If we couldn’t pay for it with cash, we didn’t get it. Those are the four things that will be wrapped and under our tree. (If this horrifies you, I give you permission to take a breather here and come back to finish reading when you’ve recovered.)

As if that wasn’t shocking enough, I’ll just tell you right now that we have been all-out Santa Claus people. We’ve gone to sit on his lap, staged an elaborate late night visit from him one Christmas Eve, and filled stockings and surrounded those with gifts that were too big to fit inside. We’ve done it for years. We also read “Are You for Real Santa Claus?” every year and had frank conversations about St. Nick. This year, there will be stockings (because my mom – aka Grandma – made the most beautiful hardanger stockings for all of us and by golly, they are going up!). Those stockings, however, will have Clementines, nuts, candy canes, mittens, caps, and perhaps socks and underwear. That’s it. No DVDs crammed in and testing the strength of the seams or iTune gift cards hiding in the toes. None of that business.

Now, this post is going to be insanely long if I don’t break here. I’ll post everything you ever wanted to know about the Advent garland (and more)here tomorrow. In the meantime, if you want to join us in recalibrating your family’s heart, so that Christ is (once again) the real star of Christmas, then you might enjoy sharing this free Advent download with your crew. [Yesterday I shared a picture on FB that said, “If you don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.” If you haven’t started doing this yet, Advent is as great a time to start as any.]

What is your family doing to keep Christ in Christmas this year?