Celebrate the Christmas Season With an Advent Calendar and Readings

advent candles

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

So goes the line to the popular holiday song, in which we hear that the Christmas season—the "hap-happiest season of all"—is filled with joyful moments of visiting friends, roasting marshmallows and stomping through the snow to spread holiday cheer to our neighbors.

Do those images remind you of how your life looks at Christmastime? Many of our stories are indeed of pleasant times, filled with good food, good gifts and warm memories of being near loved ones. Yet it's easy to look around and see that Christmas really isn't any more wonderful than the rest of the year. Frenzied holiday shoppers clash. Financial pressures mount. Family tensions surface.

Yes, we as Christians use this time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but life in a fallen world doesn't take a yuletide timeout. Indeed, for many, the season of Advent is marked not by good cheer, but by sorrow and dissatisfaction. So is there any magic in the season, anything that truly makes this a “wonderful time of year”? Well, perhaps not magic. But there is light. 

For our 2015 Advent calendar, we've collected a number of true stories of Christmastime. Together these stories point to the central, eternal theme of Christmas: Into the darkness has come a great light. As you read these stories with your kids, you'll see that there's something about Christmastime that really does make it seem special. Unexpected acts of honesty and generosity display the "Christmas spirit." Kindness and warmth toward strangers are evidence of "Christmas cheer."

It's as if we all—believers and non-believers alike—recognize that something deeper lies behind this holiday. In the dark cold of winter, we all want goodness and hope and love to be the narrative of the season.

Directions: Remove the poster-sized calendar from the magazine or sign up and download it for free.

This download contains:

  • 25 read-aloud Christmas stories 
  • directions and printouts for assembling your interactive Advent calendar

Then starting on Dec. 1, read one story per day. Encourage your children to listen carefully to determine which icon on the calendar matches something from the story. Once they find the correct picture,carefully tear off that icon (or fold it out) to mark the days until Christmas.

Perhaps you are looking for a past Focus on the Family Advent calendar, a more traditional calendar or Advent readings and activities. These items are still available once you sign up for the newest calendar. If you are looking for an Advent book that you don't have to download, consider our two Advent calendar books.

Here is what you'll find once you sign up, in addition to this year's new calendar:

2012 Advent calendar
Knowing Him by Name
Faith activities for you to do with your children during Advent

  • Advent booklet
  • *Note: because this is an older calendar, not all links may work.

2011 Advent calendar
Countdown to Christmas
Prepare for Christmas with the hope of the patriarchs, anticipation of the prophets and joy of the shepherds

  • Advent booklet
  • *Note: because this is an older calendar, not all links may work.

2010 Advent calendar
A Traditional Advent Calendar
Get daily insights, Scripture readings and activities for Advent

  • Advent booklet, which includes directions on how to make an Advent wreath
  • *Note: because this is an older calendar, not all links may work.

Advent Scripture readings, the Advent wreath and celebrating the Savior
Celebrate Advent Season by Letitia Suk
Learn more about Advent candles, the wreath and readings. 

  • Advent booklet

Two Advent calendars
Available for purchase

Journey to the Manger Advent Calendar

Take your family on a fun-filled journey to the manger this Christmas season. Learn more about Bible characters related to the Nativity and help teach your children about the true meaning of Christmas. Packed full of fun activities, dive into each day of Advent with devotions and activities that will engage the entire family. Each book includes an Advent poster, Bible character stickers, daily faith activities, readings, kids' puzzles, and more.

Adventures in Odyssey Advent Activity Calendar

Take time this Christmas season to connect with your kids in a meaningful way while enjoying a very special Advent in Odyssey. Prepare for Christmas with 25 Adventures in Odyssey activities, devotions and prayers. Cut out and decorate the paper craft Odyssey town and make your own Whit and Eugene characters. This Christmas, start a new family tradition with Adventures in Odyssey!

Portions of the Advent calendars mentioned in this article first appeared in Thriving Family magazine or the December 2000 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Did you enjoy finding out about these Advent calendars? Find more family-friendly articles and activities in Thriving Family magazine. For a donation of any amount, subscribe to Thriving Family today!

Copyright © 2015 Focus on the Family

Next in this Series: Meaningful Christmas Ideas

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