While we have done a number of different things for advent over the years, including building a paper chain by adding a link each night with a person to pray for & putting baby Jesus (one of my daughter’s dolls in her dolls cot) under the Christmas tree.
Two Activities have definitely become traditions. The first is reading a story for advent. One year we used Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury for Kids but then I found a series of books by Arnold Ytreeide. I found Bartholomew’s Passage on sale in a local Christian bookstore. When I started looking at it to see if it was suitable to use with my children, I read it in one sitting! Each chapter finishes with a cliff hanger so you want to know what happens next. In the story Bartholomew gets separated from his family. The story is of his adventures until he is reunited with his family in Bethlehem.
All of the books in the series follow the journey of a different child to the birth of Jesus. They all met a man called Nathan, a wise Essene monk who knows about the Messiah’s coming. The children’s paths cross in all of the stories but each story is just following the main character of that book. At the end of each chapter is a reflection with a question.
There is a chapter each day for the first 3 weeks of advent & then depending on what day of the week Christmas Eve is you read 1-7 small sections each day of the last week of advent. For this year with Advent being on a Sunday you would read the last section all in one day. Then there is a final chapter for Christmas Day.
To be honest there have been many times when we have been catching up on missed chapters by reading an extra chapter or two. Or reading the book in the car on the way somewhere or reading a chapter or 2 at Grandma’s. Many Christmas Eve’s have found us reading the book at the back of the church while my husband sets up the Data Projector for the Christmas Eve Service. And occasionally we have finished the story after Christmas Day but that’s ok.
We actually read Bartholomew’s passage for 4 or 5 years in a row as all of the books were out of print. I had seen one of the others in a Christian bookstore but didn’t buy it at the time. My family was happy to read the same book, they liked it that much.
Once the books were reprinted we have continued reading one each year for about 13 years. They’ve been keen to hear what happens to all of the children & try to remember how their journeys cross. We only got Ishtar’s Odyssey last year, as it is a newer addition to the series. I’m not sure that we’ll read them as a family anymore, as my children are much more independent now. Having read them from when my son was 4 until my daughter was 18, I can say that these books are great for any age. I cannot recommend this series of books enough.
Are there any particular stories your family likes for Advent?
In my next post I’ll talk about our Advent Calendar, the other Advent Activity that has stood the test of time.