A week ago a wonderful person gave me a beautiful book, To Dance With God (Family Ritual and Community Celebration) by Gertrude Mueller Nelson. Within the pages of this book are wonderful thoughts on the basic human need for religious ritual. I am now reading the part of the book that deals with Advent and the importance of ritual, not only for the church, but for the individual family as well.
In the "I Can't Wait" chapter Ms. Nelson talks specifically about setting up Advent Rituals for the family at home. Something to do every night of Advent to help us to slow down and get ready for the coming of the Christ child. There are several easy to accomplish ideas for setting up traditions for your family. She stresses that choosing a ritual has to work for your family and that some of the ideas she presents may be too particular or too general or too elusive to meet your definite needs. She says " by doing something, no matter how simple, we allow the earthly process to carry, once again, our hidden grace."
My children are young and so I have created a simple ritual this year for helping us to wait. We bought a little wooden bird feeder, and some acrylic paints and some brushes. The children got to choose the colors and the bird feeder. There are lots of styles available at Michael's or most arts and crafts stores. Our particular choice came from Michael's. The idea is to create a gift for the song birds to help them through the winter. Each member of the family will paint one small section of the bird feeder every night of Advent. Our last night of painting will be Christmas Eve and Christmas morning we will hang the bird feeder for the birds.
Again any little ritual will work to allow that grace into our hearts and homes. Ms Nelson has some beautiful ideas in her book so I strongly recommend getting a copy of this book as it goes through the whole church year. Pinterest is another great place for finding creative ideas. Just remember that whatever you try is worth the effort and creative energy behind it.
Peace be with you.