Simple Preparations for Advent

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The first light of Advent is the light of stone–

Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of the plants–

Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–

All await the birth, from the greatest and the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–

The light of love, hope and thought  

To give and understand. ~ Rudolf Steiner

Advent Sunday begins next weekend and I am currently making a tiny alter on our dining table to light the candle each week, read an advent story and sing a verse.

Each Sunday we light one, then two, then three and then four of our four advent candles, singing a part of the advent verse above and reading a Nativity story. We will also open up one window on a handmade advent calendar (by my son in Kindergarten) and add a special, tiny treasure to the advent display on the table to represent one of the four Kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal and human).

Inspired by our own family culture, we have chosen to share the Nativity story with our children while emphasizing the values and moral lessons laid out- bravery, hope, rebirth, perseverance and faith and downplaying ideas and concepts about God or the son of God. When we refer to Jesus we often refer to him as the ‘Child of Light’ as opposed to the “Son of God” or the “Saviour”. The language we have chosen to use to describe Jesus’s birth reaffirms our family’s inclusionary spiritual philosophy. For us personally, the word God feels too closed and absolute. Words like Universal Energy, World Spirit or the Divine speak more to our values and beliefs. Of course, you may choose very different language based on your family’s culture and beliefs.

As our children get older and ask more questions about the holiday stories we try to honestly respond with our own inner truths instead of those prescribed by a specific tradition or religion. But this kind of discussion is best kept for those seven and up while simply living into the holiday stories, preparations and celebrations is enough explanation for younger children.

We also celebrate more light-heartedly with a homemade advent chain. Each day we take a ring off of the advent chain to read outloud the Christmas activity for that day. Some activity examples include making hot chocolate, baking cookies for our neighbours, singing Christmas carols, dipping candles, crafting Christmas cards and collecting food for a local food drive. In this way we try to live into and experience the values we associate with this holiday season each and every day leading up to Christmas.

Since we’ve recently moved to a different community and country I am still searching for a way for our children to experience and observe how others of different faiths celebrate their own traditions during these Winter months. For example, I’d love for them to learn more about Hanukah.

I do plan on adding a new yearly festival to our own family calendar- Bodhi Day. Buddhist philosophy has a strong influence over our family and I would like to honour this day by coming together in a small meditation and perhaps enjoying a simple meal of milk and rice together for breakfast and enjoying vegan foods the rest of the day, culminating with a story book about Siddhartha.

I would love to hear how you celebrate the holidays together- what you think is working for you and what you’d like to change.

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

6 Comments

  1. Olga@Peaceful Mothering on November 25, 2016 at 11:31 am

    We normally celebrate Advent. We normally set up Mary’s walk, where we place one star of her walk up on the “sky”. Every morning when we wake up, there is something new and beautiful on her path, normally in line with the 4 lights. It is enjoyed by all and we still don’t know who is placing all these beautiful things on her path ;).

    This year, we are moving house, so we will have a pared down version of our celebrations, as our house is surrounded by boxes. Oh well, the best present will be our new home, as you well now.

    So happy that your children are experiencing the festive season in your homeland, Meagan. xxx

    • Meagan on January 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Olga, We moved last year at Christmas time so I know all too well what yo are talking about. Hope you’re settling in to your new home now! Thanks for sharing some bits of your advent celebration! Love to hear about the diverse ways everyone celebrates.

  2. seenocinos on November 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I just ordered your guide! We are in a transition geographically so we are taking Dec to just focus on Advent.

  3. Kathleen on November 28, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    I am intrigued by the Advent Sunday Stories but I can’t find the book anywhere. I live in the States so may be more difficult to get it here since I’ve heard she’s from NZ? Where did you find it? Thanks for posting this!
    Kathleen

  4. Catherine Wallack on December 2, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    What is the book in the pictures by Collette Leenman?

  5. Lindsay on January 21, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Hi there, I just found your blog and am diving in. The last 2 links in your post (Pinterest Advent board) and the rhythms guide) are broken, but I’m very interested in those things. Could you point me in the right direction? Thank you for all the information you’ve been sharing on your blog!

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