Living so far away from the US has always kept us a safe distance from the commercial-ness of Christmas. it’s nice. and it’s been nice to enjoy and celebrate Slovak traditions: beautifully decorated gingerbread cookies, fresh carp for sale in the city (I didn’t say I buy it, but it’s for sure a sign of Christmas here in our city), stands set up in the city center selling all kinds of handmade crafts and food. it’s so nice, just to walk around, especially in the snow!
However, things are changing in Slovakia. decorations are up earlier, restaurants and shops are prepared for the “shopping” season. Even Christmas trees are on sale. (Although we are wondering how they will survive until the 24th when most Slovaks put up their tree). I think this is the earliest I have ever seen it here. And yes, it is most likely influence from the West, bringing the commercialized Christmas even to Slovakia. People don’t seem to mind it. I don’t hear people complaining. In fact, I see them out buying! carrying their packages and stopping to eat some of the goodies.
And so I wonder, if we are ready to accept this coming so far in advance, the season of gift- giving, Can we just as readily accept the season of celebrating the greatest gift given. I mean, can it ever be too early to celebrate Christ’s birth? it’s not just a birthday. He was born to die. for us. Can it ever be too early to celebrate that?
It’s beautiful pictures, and text full of THE WORD. We found our kids loving to open the doors, year after year. and even having the text memorized by the time we get to the end of the book. It has never gotten old. We love it.
So what started only because of a gift given to us, after seeing the results, I would choose over and over to do this with my family. I just didn’t know. I didn’t know how important it would be to focus on the coming of Christ’s birth. I didn’t know how it would take the focus off (although not completely) of what I want to get for Christmas to what I was given for Christmas. Four weeks of reading from God’s word everyday, specifically how He planned all of this for us. Incredible. four weeks. not enough.
and so in that spirit of not enough, i have found some new ideas our family will be trying out this year (in addition to the Advent book). I wanted to share them here with you. maybe you will be inspired too!
1. Jesse Tree Journey: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/11/free-christmas-family-devotional-jesse-tree-ornaments/
this is from Ann Voskamp, author of 1000 gifts. It’s a 27 day devotional. We painted our own ornaments (from her print off) and read it every evening after supper (photo below is from her website). I like how it starts with Genesis, the beginning, our need for a savior .
2. I have been following some Bible reading plans from the website shereadstruth. Ephesians. Phillipians. Colossians. and now Advent. I use it with the iphone app, youversion, so i have it with me where ever I am. I like the idea of a daily reading plan. I take notes. I dig deeper from commentaries. it seems to fit me. i don’t do a lot of commenting, but others do (a lot). I found these printable cards for sale that go along with this specific reading plan. There are 28. I took them and had them printed on nice shiny card stock. I am so excited about them, they look great!