The trouble with the generalized “holiday season” isn’t that it is a part of some calculated “war on Christmas”; it’s that it leaves us with no lexicon for longing. It gives us snow and songs, elves and sales, cookies and cards … but no vocabulary for grief, for sorrow, for the deep ache in our hearts.

This is why we have come to appreciate advent. Advent isn’t a spiritual, alternative name for “Christmas”; it is its own season, a season of preparation for Christmas. Advent is when the anticipated joy of Christ’s first arrival puts us in touch with our anticipated joy at His return. Advent is a joy that helps us hope.

Advent is when we give voice to the ache and pain and longing in our hearts. Advent is also when we confess our own participation in the brokenness of the world. Advent, then, is not only about longing for Christ to come again and put everything back together; it’s about repenting and receiving grace so that we get to be put back together now.

But there’s one more piece. Advent is not only about longing for Christ to put the world back together, not only about repenting and letting Christ put us back together; it is also a chance to participate in bringing wholeness to others.

Here’s a list of advent resources to help you and your family enter into this season.


  1. The Divine Hours (Volume Two): Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime: A Manual for Prayer by Phyllis Tickle
  2. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, and more


  1. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
  2. The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent by Ann Voskamp (for young children)
  3. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
  4. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens