2020 Advent Roundup for a Simple Christmas

It goes without saying that our Advent and Christmas season would and should look different than in years past. While I am definitely grieving knowing that I won’t be filling my home with all sorts of holiday gatherings with friends and family, there’s also something stirring within me that is looking forward to a Simple Christmas….which means a simpler advent season, too.

I’ve always loved the advent season… the waiting, the preparation, the hopeful anticipation of what is to come. In a year filled with cancellations, uncertainty, isolation and way too many “unprecedented moments,” I am craving the coming of the Christ Child, Emmanuel—God with Us, more than I think I ever have.

You might be thinking that the holiday season just isn’t the holiday season without all of your gatherings and parties and excursions filled with hustle and bustle and a jam packed calendar and seeing everyone you know. Maybe, though, there is a silver lining in all of this pandemic living—found in the opportunity (yes, I said opportunity) to embrace a simple Christmas, a simpler advent season and a chance to focus on what it means to embrace things in the next few weeks that are Simply Christmas.

Will I miss hosting gatherings in my home all month long? Of course—but that will happen again in the future. Instead, this year, I am choosing to embrace simplicity, savor time with those who live under my roof, and pause long enough to fully experience the mystery and wonder of the Advent and Christmas seasons.

At the least, I hope that you will embrace the practice of lighting candles in an Advent Wreath. This week, I’ll be sharing some simple ways you can make your own on a dollar store budget. Over the years, I have loved lighting the candles, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week. If you don’t do anything else, maybe incorporate this Advent practice in your home this year.

Here’s a little round-up of just a few devotional/resource books you might enjoy:

Faithful Families for Advent & Christmas by Traci Smith-Like her other books helping families with faith development of their children, this book offers simple, yet fresh ideas for how to walk through the advent season together. I love that in the opening words of the book, the author writes that there are way more ideas in the book than you need, but to just pick a few. Y’all —just pick a few. Simple. Easy. Opportunities to create meaning for you and your family in the days leading up to Christmas. Order a copy now so that you have time to read it before Advent begins and then select just a few for your family.

Shadow & Light: A Journey into Advent by Tsh Oxenreider– First of all, the cover of this book is simply stunning. It is beautiful and inviting, and I loved hearing her perspective when she was a guest on The Lazy Genius Podcast. Each day in this devotional has 4 parts. In the podcast, she explained that you can do all 4 or pick two that suite you for the day…light a candle, do the reading, view the art on her website and listen to a song (again, on her website). If you appreciate multi-sensory experiences, this is a good option for you.

Advent 2020: Jesus Christ is Born by She Reads Truth-I have used the “She Reads Truth” Bible study app in the past from time to time, but have never purchased one of their study guide books. This year’s Advent study from She Reads Truth focuses on what scripture says about why Jesus was born (to bring light to a world of darkness, to teach us how to walk in God’s ways, to show us perfect love, etc.). They also have advent conversation cards for kids that are just beautiful. You can gather the kids and read one card each night at dinner or before bed as a simple faith practice in your home. There’s a wonderful podcast with the authors on Annie F. Downs podcast “That Sounds Fun” that has more details about this study. What I like about this one is that there are five days of readings per week with built in “catch up” days as well as fun recipes and crafts. Apparently, it’s tradition with the She Reads Truth Advent books for there to be a cross-stitch pattern included and this year there are three. UPDATE: As I was about to publish this post, I noticed that the printed books are sold out already. However, the reading plan will be available in the She Reads Truth app. The advent plan will go live on the app on the first day of Advent, November 29.

Here’s a few more resources to share. Remember, don’t do ALL of these…pick one or two things and do those this year as you embrace what it means for everything to focus on simply Christmas.

{Christmas Books for Kids}–Ministry colleague and friend, Rev. Cara Gilger has a wonderful blog and email newsletter and recently shared wonderful Christmas books for kids. You’ll also want to check out her suggestions for how to start an advent book-a-day tradition with your family.

{Fun Holiday Bucket List}-from Kelli Hampton with Enjoy the Little Things. She shares free bucket lists and I love that these are pandemic-safety friendly, too.

{Birthday Party for Jesus}-Create a new annual tradition to bake a birthday cake for Jesus with your household. Simple. Easy and fun. Here’s a post I wrote several yeas ago about it.

{Advent Poetry}–Given to me as a gift, I have used this book of poetry during the journey through Advent for 25 years. You will really enjoy having “Kneeling in Bethlehem” by Ann Weems on your coffee table or nightstand throughout the season.

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