If they could sell the public on the idea, many retailers would probably have the average person believing that Advent is about Christmas shopping. Especially since the number one complaint about the Christmas season is crowds and long lines. These things can be enough of an annoyance that they can make families forget why Christmas is even celebrated and make many traditions seem empty and meaningless.
It's a sad fact that Christmas has become more of a cultural holiday and has, over time, lost a great deal of its true meaning for most of America. While about 92 percent of the population says that they celebrate Christmas, the younger a person is, the less likely they are to attend church as a way to celebrate Christmas.
Advent is a great time to teach children why Christmas is celebrated, and create meaningful traditions that not only reflect that but also bring families closer together. Christmas traditions give the family several opportunities over the course of the Christmas season to slow down, remember the past, and create new memories. But it takes time and commitment to celebrate Christmas traditions, so it's an activity that needs to be intentional and ideally, planned. Advent can be a great tool for doing that.
The Christmas tradition of Advent can be a great way to pass the traditional stories about Christmas along to the kids. It can provide a teachable moment that gives Dad and Mom an opportunity to talk about how Christ came into this world as a baby, the miracle of the virgin birth, the miracle of John the Baptist's birth, how these two fit together, Christ's life, His willingness to pay the price for sin and offer forgiveness, salvation, and even that He will one day return again.
Granted, that's a lot to cover in one month. So there are many devotionals out there that can help with organizing information and presenting the stories. A couple of great resources are Focus on the Family's Advent calendar, and Crosswalk.com Christmas Devotionals. Another great tool is Family Life Today's 12 Names of Christmas Ornaments.
Sometimes it can be fun to create new Advent and Christmas traditions, especially as children grow and new members get added to the family. Linking stories and symbolism to the lighting of the candles and connecting it to Christ as the light of the world is a powerful visual. With the lighting of each candle, perhaps that could be followed by someone sharing their salvation experience.
Another possible option is sharing some amazing way that God moved in what looked like an impossible situation such as the birth of a child, someone's healing, a financial miracle, a career dream being realized that required God's intervention, or some other amazing testimony about how God has shown Himself to be real in the life of family members.
Watching a movie or two together that that has a Christian theme or a positive values aspect can make for some great discussion time following the movie. Movie choices will depend on the ages of family members, but movies such as God's Not Dead, Do You Believe, The Ultimate Gift, War Room, and many others can be some great options. Amazon, www.Christianmovies.com, and www.Christianfilms.com can be great places to look for these items.