Advent Calendars: Advent calendars represent a fun side to this season of waiting. You’ve probably seen them in stores – thick cardboard or wooden calendars with manger scenes or other Christmas-related images. For each day in December you’ll notice tiny, numbered doors. Starting with the first Sunday of Advent, have a child open door #1. Continue to do this until the 24th day, taking turns as each family member gets a chance. Typically, a piece of chocolate awaits the opener, but to stretch this tradition beyond a sugar-high, buy a calendar that has Scripture or religious symbols behind each door. Read and discuss as a family.

For parents and teens who want to prepare for Christmas on a deeper level, there are special Advent devotionals for this time of year (check out your local Christian bookstore) as well as opportunities to add fasting and prayer to your weekly schedule. Given the traditional penitential nature of this season, it is also a wonderful time to reflect on the past year and ask God's forgiveness for any sins in your life that may be hindering your relationship with Him. As you set time aside to really contemplate the meaning of Christ’s coming, don’t be surprised if this Christmas Day holds an extra measure of joy for you and your family as you experience an increased awareness of His presence in your lives.