Through the years of growing up in the Catholic church, the season of Advent was always a part of Christmastime for me.

Now, with children of my own, I have included Advent in our Christmas traditions.

More specifically, the Advent book my parents used with us when I was a child.

I absolutely love the way it helps us focus on the birth of Christ.

Christmastime is so full of wonderful things … sights, smells, sounds, activities, family, friends, and memories.

They should all be enjoyed to the fullest!!

But, sometimes, it can be easy to lose sight of what we are celebrating.

This helps us to keep the focus where it belongs while we enjoy all the other wonderful parts of Christmas.

(I just looooove Christmas!!!)

Every since my first child was born, I have flipped through every Advent book I came across.

None have compared to this worn and stained copy of Our Family Shares Advent by Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen from my childhood.

Using this book, this is what we do …

Baby Girl and I, late one night, catching up on a "missed day". She is reading while I string popcorn and cranberries for the tree. (... I was in my pajamas, ready for bed, not a photo to be placed on my blog a couple of years later.)

Beginning on November 30th, for 25 days, ending on Christmas Eve, we sit together at the table sometime after dinner and before bedtime.

Depending on the ages of the children, we decide each year on how to share the privileges of lighting candles, blowing them out, choosing a song, and reading.

While lighting the candle(s), we sing the following song to the Jimmy Crack Corn tune (perfect for us because we always seem to have little ones at the table and this song is easy and fun):

Light one candle, Advent’s here

Light one candle, Advent’s here

Light one candle, Advent’s here

Christmastime is near (clap clap)

(And, of course we change the word “one” to “two” for the second week, and so on.)

We then all sing a song.

I printed out a booklet of songs, one for each person, from domestic-church.com.

(If you want backup music/vocals you can always look the songs up online and play it while everyone sings along.  It helps to find them online and save the specific links somewhere so you can quickly pull up a version you like, and can sing along to.)

After we sing, we read the story in the book for that day.

The stories are paraphrased from the Bible, beginning with the story of creation and ending with the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary.

Depending on the ages of the children at the time, if they are very young, we then also read the similar story from their Bible.  Their story is usually shorter and includes pictures that would interest them.   …   After the children have then gone to bed, the older children and myself sometimes read the sections of the Bible related to what we read that night.  Sometimes together, or on our own.  After reading, it sometimes leads to discussion.

We then read the back page for each day which can be a number of things – information about Advent, different symbolisms of the season, a bible verse to memorize, or an activity.

At the end we all join hands, quiet our minds for a moment, visualize Jesus with us, and pray  …  each person having a turn to give thanks and for any prayer request.

It is by far one of my most favorite parts of the Christmas season!

The children all enjoy it as well and not a night goes by without at least one of them reminding me.  And if I’m busy cleaning up after dinner or bathing children, they remember.  They will take me by the hand and pull me to the table, where they have placed the wreath, the book, and our song books.

Now that Baby Girl has left the nest, she can’t wait to participate in our nightly Advent activity via the webcam!