Advent resources for kids and moms

So here we are, one week away from the first Sunday of Advent.  In typical fashion, I have yet to get a wreath or a calendar (last year, I bought the calendar around December 4th; better late than never, eh?).   But even though I’m a bit behind in some of my preparations,  I do have some great new books that promise to get me and mine totally into the Advent spirit.

Welcome Baby Jesus is a brand-new book by my fabulous online friend Sarah Reinhard, who blogs at SnoringScholar.com.  This little booklet is a fantastic resource to help kids observe the Advent and Christmas seasons.  Each day offers a short reflection, a Scripture passage and prayer, and a thematically-appropriate action to go along with it, inviting readers to do anything from draw a picture that makes them feel hopeful to help in the kitchen without being asked (oh, how I love that last one!).  The book has an inviting layout, with colorful graphics and a darling cover that instantly grabbed my five-year-old’s attention.  And I love how the book includes the Christmas season, too.  So many kids have a crash of enthusiasm directly after Christmas Day, feeling as though all the fun has passed; this great little resource gives them soul-food for the twelve days of Christmas, too, helping them see that December 25th is really just the beginning of the celebration.  It’s a gem of a book.  I’m going to give my nieces a copy when I see them this week, and I know they’ll love it.  (And at the bargain price of $1.99, I may be buying a few more copies besides!).

The other day, as I browsed around that dangerous place known as the Catholic bookstore (it is to me what shoestores are to more fashionable women), my attention was caught by the book Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.  It’s part of  an Advent series published by Liguori Publications; each book takes the writings of a different spiritual giant (Chesterton and Thomas Merton are some of the other authors available) and gives a short excerpt for each day of Advent and Christmas, pairing it with a Scripture passage, a prayer, and an “Advent Action” for the day.   I haven’t read a ton of Henri Nouwen,  but what I have read I’ve enjoyed, and  my quick look through the book made me decide that it would be a great way to get daily doses of Advent inspiration.  My intention is to read the entries each morning before work; the passages are short enough that I have a chance of actually succeeding in this endeavor, and I like the idea of having a certain action in mind as a spiritual goal before I launch myself into the chaos of the day.

Before I go, another great Advent book that I’ve blogged about in the past is Watch for the Light, an anthology that includes a wide variety of authors.  Some of them you wouldn’t think of as spiritual (Sylvia Plath, for example), but I love the diversity of essays, sermons, and poems that the book pulls together.  It goes very well with a cold night, a comfy armchair and a good cup of tea.

So what are your favorite Advent resources?  Are there books, websites, or certain traditions that help get you fully into the “waiting zone”?

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