Every year it starts earlier and gets worse – the emphasis on materialism as the “meaning” of Christmas. The ads on TV guarantee a joyous Christmas if we just buy the right gifts. We can complain or ignore this commercialism, but it seems pretty certain it’s not going away.
For people of faith there is another option, thankfully. We can celebrate Advent and make that the focus of our attention for the weeks before Christmas. I recently led an Advent retreat where we looked at different types of prayer, with the hope that one or more would become the focus of our spiritual life for Advent. One of the prayer methods we experimented with was meditative coloring, which has become widely popular with adults as evidenced by the profusion of coloring books on sale in stores and online.
I recently received a review copy of a coloring book from Paraclete Press called The Advent Coloring Calendar: A Coloring Book to Bless and De-Stress Through the Season. There is a quote, from scripture or somewhere else, along with a picture for each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas, so you can make coloring a daily spiritual practice for Advent. Or, if you’re like me and not as disciplined as some folks, you can color a picture when the mood hits and save any unfinished ones for next Advent. The pictures themselves include the numbers 1-24 embellished with various shapes. There are also several pictures for Christmas and the days following. You can download a free excerpt from the book by clicking here.
If you want to enhance your coloring time with beautiful music playing in the background, the book is sold as a gift set, packaged with your choice of two CDs. The Advent Color and Sound Set with Beloved Carols includes readings from Matthew’s gospel along with songs that focus on the birth of Jesus. You can also select The Advent Color and Sound Set with Gregorian Chant which uses the music of Gregorian chant to describe the time before and after Jesus’ birth.
You can give the books and CDs as an early Christmas gift or as something to put away for next Advent. The Advent Coloring Calendar retails for $11.99 but is on sale now on Paraclete’s website for $7.79. You can also purchase it from Amazon and other online sellers. The book and CD gift sets retail for $24.95 but are on sale now for $16.22 from Paraclete. This is a wonderful way to de-stress and get your mind and spirit ready for Christmas. It’s also an activity that can be done with friends, as a family, or at an intergenerational event at your church.