As Advent began a little over a month ago, I was trying to figure out a new tradition I could start to celebrate. I talked with friends, read blogs, searched the internet, and brainstormed, yet so many of the ideas I found all centered around doing things with your family each day… with the people that live in the same space as you. I was thankful for some ideas of things I could do long distance with family as well as the many opportunities I had this last month to join in with other families here to celebrate, but I wanted something special to celebrate and mark the journey of Advent. I wanted something that would keep me focused on what this season is really all about.
Somehow as I read about seed planting, Jesse Trees, shepherds bags, advent activity calendars, family devotions and more I realized that even if I was living alone, whatever my advent celebration ended up being, it was meant to be shared. So here’s what I ended up with as my new personal advent tradition:
On the Saturday before Advent I sat down with my address book and made a list of friends that are now spread out all over the country … people I talk to often, people I never see, and people everywhere in between. After I had a list of 29 names, I addressed a greeting card to each of them and placed them in one of my Christmas decorations designed to actually hold received greeting cards.
Each night before bed, I would pick out one card from the pile. Sometimes the picking was random and other times something about that day reminded me of someone and so I would choose that person’s card for that day. Then I would sit down and share. Each card had at least two things described in it… a general update of how life is and a summary of where God took me on my Advent journey that day.
Some days were filled with exciting moments to share with my friend, while other days God took me through some difficult stuff on the journey toward the birth of his Son.
While I missed a few days here and there and it wasn’t always easy to make the time, I must say that this tradition is defintiely sticking around (and possibly making an appearance at Lent too)! Here are a some of the reasons why:
- It forced me to ask myself the question everyday: God what did you want me to learn in this day and did I learn it? Where did you want me to go and did I go there? What did you want me to do… did I do it?
- I knew that each night I would have to share something about where God took me on my Advent Journey so I learned to keep my eyes open to him at work otherwise I knew it would be hard to have anything worth sharing if I didn’t keep my eyes open.
- I got to connect with some friends that I haven’t talked to in a long time.
- Everyone loves snail mail! 🙂
- I love writing letters/cards and haven’t taken enough time to do it lately.
- I would have never sent out 20+ Christmas cards this year if I just sat down and did it all at one time (at least not ones that had anything beyond my signature and a brief Christmas greeting).
- I heard back from about half of the people and it gave me a chance to hear what’s going on in their worlds too.
- I got to share the typical “catch up” details that everyone wants to know but the second part of each card forced me to go deeper than that and share about how life REALLY is… in that day.
- My advent celebrations weren’t limited to myself and/or the people I see around here in NY… I got to invite people all over the country into at least one day of my advent celebrations. Often, I was able to share what I was doing with people here in NY with the people I was mailing cards to outside of NY. This means that the to the living nativity with Tracy, Jaime, and Addie; decorating sugar cookies with friends; and spending Christmas with the Whiteds all meant so much more as I relived them that night and shared them with friends in CO, IA, FL and beyond. 🙂
- It helped keep my focus on what this season is all about and why Jesus came… which is what really matters anyway. 🙂
I would love to hear about any advent or Christmas traditions you all have! Please share them in the comments.
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