In this modern day, it seems the secular world begins preparing for Christmas as soon as Halloween ends. Televisions, newspapers, and radio stations all broadcast ad after ad of the biggest and brightest toys and gadgets of the season. Pretty Christmas trees, lights, and images of Santa Claus fill people’s thoughts as everyone eagerly awaits giving their loved ones the perfect present they had been searching for since mid-September to find the best deal. As adults, it’s hard enough to not get lost in the hustle and bustle and overlook the season of Advent, but imagine how difficult it is for a child.
One Fort Wayne Catholic School teacher has been working hard to prepare her students to welcome the greatest gift of all, the baby Jesus.
At St. Therese, Kathy Ehinger is on a mission to prepare her second- and third-graders’ hearts and minds for the coming of the Savior. “I am trying to show them that Christmas is more than just presents and Santa. As important as that is to them at this age, they are never too young to start learning the true meaning of the season,” Ehinger reflected.
She begins each school day with an Advent reflection and activity. Activities range from creating a Nativity out of paper and cardboard to a take-home Advent wreath decorated with foam dots. The students have also been creating Advent lap books, complete with a weekly devotion focusing on the symbols of Advent. Another activity included taking a smooth stone and gluing a picture of baby Jesus onto it. They could then carry this stone in their pockets and be reminded of the reason for Advent every time they looked at it.
Another special way the students have been preparing for the coming of the Savior is by placing a piece of straw in the manger each time they do a good deed. “They are preparing themselves and making sure baby Jesus is comfortable,” Ehinger remarked.
“When we do something good, we get to help baby Jesus!” one student shared. Another very important theme for St. Therese students was prayer. They have daily Advent prayers within their reflections, and one day were even asked to pray for seven specific people in their lives.
Several students shared that their favorite part of the Advent season is prayer. One student, Julian, elaborated on this theme by saying, “By praying and waiting for Jesus, we will be able to spend more time with family.” Julian also planned on taking his foam Advent wreath home and decorating the top of the Christmas tree with it in place of a star.
The children have also been practicing Advent songs, one of which turns the popular tune “Jingle Bells” into a true Advent-themed sing-along. As Christmas approaches, St. Therese School kindergarteners through second-graders will put on an Advent play for the other students during the school day, reminding everyone that the reason for this holy season is a tiny child, born to be the Savior of all.
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