My earliest recollections of preparing for Christmas revolve around the family Advent calendar. When Mom hung the calendar on the wall at child’s-eye level and started suppertime devotions on the Scripture passage we uncovered each day, we knew we were counting down to the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus. In the midst of holiday preparations (addressing cards, making gifts, decorating, baking, etc.), the Advent calendar kept us focused on the reason for it all. This custom was so important to me that Tom and I introduced it first to our children and, recently, to our grandchildren.
At some point along the way, I realized that the Advent calendar is not a “childish thing” to be put away, but rather the foundation of a lifetime of spiritual practice and growth. For one thing, it has helped me distinguish the sacred from the secular: Advent from December, Jesus from Santa, giving from receiving, and so forth.
The Advent calendar also helped me establish a devotional routine that I’ve gradually extended throughout the year. In addition, the years of practicing these devotional routines have helped me grow in understanding not only of Advent (from “Away in a Manger” to “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”), but also of the spiritual significance of all the seasons of the church year.
For me, the journey of faith started with the family Advent calendar. May it be so also for our children and grandchildren.
About the Contributor
Nan McDaniel, a retired teacher and school district administrator, has served FPCS as a Deacon and Elder as well as, on an interim basis, director of our education and discipleship ministries. Currently an active Elder on the Adult Education & Discipleship Committee, she is one of the teachers of the Bible Alive! Sunday School class and, with husband Tom, leads the Tuesday/Thursday noontime adult study groups. She and Tom are the parents of two and the grandparents of five.