Advent Gratitude Countdown {3 Ideas}

how to simplify your homeschool

Happy Thanksgiving Week! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got my stretchy pants ready for Thursday, LOL! Advent gratitude on it’s way.

advent gratitude

From Grateful to Gorging

The holidays can be an interesting time of year, can’t it?

We start off with hearts postured to count our blessings all through November, but as soon as the turkey and pumpkin pie are devoured, we enter a heyday of spending and superfluity through most of December!

The gratitude we fight for in anticipation of Thanksgiving can quickly fade amidst the merry-making weeks leading up to Christmas.

Stores lure us in with the decking of their halls, holiday music and movies evoke a spirit of not only giving but getting, and children’s eyes are all aglow as they get whisked away in all the “wonder” the world presents them this time of year – delightful packages, scrumptious treats, festive gatherings, jolly elves, and so much more.

Unfortunately, instead of training up hearts to simply behold the precious gift of Jesus’ birth, we inadvertently advocate building up muscles in indulgent consumption … and even in discontentment (have you ever encountered a child who didn’t get exactly what they wanted on their wish list or even in the aisle of the local big box store during this sensory-overload season?!).

The reverent commemoration of God incarnate often is overshadowed by culture’s practice of creating earthly “magic”. In the process, we can not only forget the reason for the season, but can also misplace our thankful hearts.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas time! I’m all about joyful expectation for celebrating the hope we get because of God’s gift of a deliverer and sin-slayer: King Jesus.

But I, myself, have fallen into the temptation to go overboard and have subsequently had to learn to guard my children (and myself!) against the propensity towards holiday excessiveness. Not an easy feat when the rest of the world is tempting you to do so!

As a young mom, it was so easy to get swept up in the twinkling tidal wave of a first-world Christmas and I was soon convicted of the need to fight with intentionality to keep this time of year focused on Jesus, what he has done for us, and the life we get to have because of him.

advent gratitude

Gratefulness Requires Intentionality

As a result, my husband and I implemented a few helpful practices to help our family fight for gratitude and gospel-centered during the Advent season:

It’s Jesus’ Birthday Tradition

We incorporated the What Can We Give the King/Shepherd’s Pouches” tradition. You can read more in detail about what exactly this is on my blog, but basically this tradition helped to orient my children’s hearts towards the fact that Christmas is singularly about Jesus’ birth.

A big part of this tradition – as a way to fight against the “gimmes” that can plague young ones this time of year – was encouraging our kids to think about what they could give to Jesus instead; afterall, it is HIS birthday we are celebrating, not ours!

My kids are older now, and I can’t stress enough how powerful and instrumental this tradition – alone – was in helping them keep Jesus and the gospel at the center of the Christmas season.

Service-Focused Advent Calendar

Some years we forewent the chocolate- or toy-filled Advent calendar, and instead used ones that had prompts to encourage service to others.

A lot of Advent calendars promote indulging the flesh in some way, whether with a tangible object (a treat or something to play with). Even the ones that don’t have stuff in them usually incorporate activity prompts like going to the theater to watch a holiday movie or going to the coffee shop for some hot chocolate … activities that cater to pleasing oneself.

I mean, we love all of that; I’m not saying don’t give or do those kinds of things at all! But the reality is that those kinds of experiences are easy to curate. Materialism and entertainism (indulge my making up off words) are not things we have to cultivate; they are hard-wired into our pleasure-seeking minds and bodies.

More of a battle is cultivating hearts of humility, sacrificial living, and giving without expectation.

As I was looking for advent calendars that focused more on others, I stumbled upon Not Consumed Ministries’ Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Tradition. This tradition is a fun alternative to counting down the days to Christmas by getting minds OFF stuff and self, and instead encourages a heart of blessing others. There is even a free printable you can download with not only a list of ideas for what to do each day, but also beautifully illustrated cards that you can attach to items you are blessing others with throughout the month.

My kids love incorporating this tradition in some way every year!

Advent Gratitude Countdown

If you do use a chocolate- or toy-filled Advent calendar, at least add to your daily countdown the quick practice of documenting things you are thankful for each day. This is a great way to extend cultivating gratitude even in the midst of all the lavish merry-making that permeates our culture.

I suggest actually writing this down (as opposed to simply going around and verbally sharing). You can use a small notebook or even slips of paper to leave on your dining table (or any area of your home where your family gathers often) to pen down what each member of the family is grateful for every single day of Advent.

On Christmas Day, take time to look back on all you wrote down and, boy, what a gift it will be to see how much God has blessed your family – in small and big ways – in just that time! In a way, this can be another “gift” you could give to Jesus on his birthday – acknowledging all the favor, grace, and mercy you received during the month.

To help you with this, I’ve created Advent activities for kids … a free Advent Gratitude Countdown printable!

These are just a few ideas that I hope will inspire you as you prepare to disciple your children through the upcoming Advent season. Let’s endeavor to intentionally fight for gratitude over the gospel and what that means for us in the midst of all the glitter and gala of the holiday.

Advent Gratitude Countdown

You can get the Advent Gratitude Countdown by leaving your name & email. We’ll zip it on over to your inbox.

Pauline Cook is a Christian unschooling / lifeschooling mama who loves learning and growing together with her crew in The Bigger Story.

She is also passionate about intentional, gospel-powered living and in discipling her 3 kiddos up in having the same heart.

You can learn more on Pauline in her blog and you can follow her on Instagram

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