Advent, Waiting and Childhood

title_waitingI’d never heard of Advent during my childhood.

I knew about waiting for Christmas, but not that the month of December encompassed Advent.

Advent, of course, is all about waiting for the coming of Christ into the world.

A recent article by Eric Metaxas, does a fine job of exploring Too Much Christmas, Too Little Advent? The Joy of Anticipation.

The Good of Waiting

It’s important that children–and adults–learn the value of waiting.

Waiting means marking time, perhaps, but can be used in a progressive sense: building anticipation for an event.

Wise parents teach their children about “delayed gratification,” the concept of not getting everything immediately.

A child taught how to wait knows that the time in between learning about something and actually receiving it can build their enthusiasm.Advent

Sure, we’re disappointed that gift is not here right now, but we can dream about:  what we’ll do with it, what it will be like to have, how wonderful a day is coming when something will be ours.

That’s what Advent is–waiting for the Christ child.

The people of the Old Testament waited a very long time.

Indeed, between Malachi and Luke–the last book of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament–400 years went by.

That’s a lot of waiting.

Advent and children

I gave the Advent season little thought until I had children of my own.

The need for explaining the point of Christmas occured my first child’s second December.

As a first grandchild, he received 20 gifts the first week of December!

There wasn’t that much room under the Christmas tree.

Since I had the foresight to see a 14 month-old would be overwhelmed at opening so many gifts on December 25, we allowed him to open one present a day.

He loved it.

So did we.

We never did that again.


Karen Whiting hasn’t changed much . . .

When my son was four, I met Karen Whiting at an Officer’s Christian Fellowship Bible study.

She had four stair-step children that year, with two boys on either side of my first son.

Our first Advent together, I discovered what a creative woman Karen is.

She had puppets and plays, and symbols and activities planned for her four children all the weeks leading up to Advent.

I have no skills in the craft arena but I could recognize a deep spiritual understanding of what the symbols of Christmas could teach my children.

That year, Karen gave me a mimeographed copy of her notes–which I probably could unearth out of my Christmas boxes even now.

But there’s no need this year.

Christmas is Coming! But Waiting is Hard!

Karen has written and published a book (which I purchased for the family of that first born son) called Christmas is Coming! But Waiting is Hard!

The book is an invaluable resource for parents–crafty or not–to use Advent as a family time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

As Karen wrote on the first page:

“God’s love is an ADVENTure and one of the best ADVENTures happens at Christmastime.”

She invites readers to “consider the deeper meaning of the wreath, candles, evergreens and other Christmas symbols; and discover the real joy of the season.”

The book provides 28 days of material a parent can adapt for a family.

Karen explores the four candles of the Advent wreath and what they mean.

Each day includes prayer, discussion questions, explanation of a Christmas symbol, suggested activities to put the Scriptures into action and reproducibles for the activities.

It be used annually.

How do children learn to wait during the Christmas season?

By making it about Advent–the coming of the Christ child.


Waiting, Advent and children: making Jesus’ birth joy-filled. Click to Tweet

Christmas is Coming! But Waiting is Hard! Karen Whiting can help.  Click to Tweet

A book of simple Advent traditions for families. Click to Tweet



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