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Advent means coming, or arrival, and the Advent season celebrates the birth of Jesus, the arrival of Christmas and the season of love, compassion and caring. An Advent calendar is filled with surprise and adventure, where each day reveals a little bit of magic. Some of us remember calendars with 24 hidden doors or pockets for chocolates or treats, small notes or other Christmas gifts. Mainly an Advent calendar is a wonderful way to create Christmas traditions that you can keep, year after year.

Because Advent is highlighted by anticipation, expectation and longing, an Advent calendar is the perfect way to share so many important stories, memories and lessons that make the Christmas season real for you and your family. Nancy Pratt and Bill Parr created this calendar with the hope that you will be able to share it with your family and friends throughout the Advent season. They created a journey that makes the season real. So slip on your best ugly Christmas sweater to get into the spirit of the season, and make time daily to prepare.

1st Sunday of Advent – Sunday, December 3

“This Advent we look to the Wise Men to teach us where to focus our attention. We set our sights on things above, where God is. We draw closer to Jesus… When our Advent journey ends, and we reach the place where Jesus resides in Bethlehem, may we, like the Wise Men, fall on our knees and adore him as our true and only King.” — Mark Zimmermann

I remember one Christmas of usual Texas weather, which means it was unusually warm. It was December 11 and we still hadn’t put up the tree, which means my allergies had not kick in. But, neither had my Christmas spirit. I stood in front of my parents chairs and proclaimed that we were missing Christmas. My father called my two brothers, and we put the tree up, it had been sitting in water in the garage, and we fully decorated it. Then my father told me to lead us in reading the Christmas story and sing a hymn. All I wanted was the tree up.

Ask yourself how important Advent and Christmas is to you. Well, do something about it.

Read: Isaiah 52:7-10

Monday, December 4

Is there anything to compare to the joy of spending Christmas Day with a baby? Babies giggle and laugh, they are in awe of the shiny tinsel and gold ornaments, they taste new tastes: candy canes, gingerbread cookies, etc., and we all know that they delight in playing with the gift wrap and paper and tissue and ribbons!

The last time my family celebrated Christmas with a baby was in the early 1990’s when my nephew Zach was 10 months old. My sister Becky found a toy store specializing in electronic toys and she bought several items for Zach there: a ball that rolled and played music, a little truck that lit up, and something else. This was one of those stores that shows up sometime after Black Friday and is open only for one month. Sure enough, on Christmas morning, none of Zach’s toys still worked! My very practical sister returned his gifts and when I asked what she was doing to replace them, she said, “Nothing. We have pictures of his first Christmas with the toys, and he was much more interested in the boxes and paper and in his big brothers’ toys.” Those of you who are the youngest child in the family may identify! But the point is that Zach had a great first Christmas!

Yes, Christmas Day spent with a baby is a special thing. Our family looks forward to spending it with baby Hannah Jean next year – she is due in January 2018. This Christmas Day, spend part of your time with the very special baby whose birth we celebrate!

Read: Psalm 127:1-5