Christmas has passed, but here in our house not much really changes. We travel less, thankfully, but we leave the tree up, all the decorations, and are even going to bake another batch of those butter cookie cut-outs, and the molasses ones, too! This is in part because I love a proper celebration once the feast has arrived. This isn’t just something I made up; it’s called the afterfeast in the Eastern Orthodox church. The feast day is here! Time to celebrate, not just pack up and move on. Admittedly, though, our festivities also continue because the approach to Christmas is too busy to savor it all, even despite our efforts to slow down. Having both kids’ birthdays in there sure doesn’t help! We just need to snuggle up under the Christmas lights with those beautiful books and steaming Christmas mugs a little big longer.
This is true every year, but has been especially true this particular year. The fact is, life’s been so very hectic (this farm-buying thing doesn’t fit so neatly into homeschooling and regular life with kid chaos!). As advent approached, it was seeming doubtful that I could deliver on the expectations R was dreaming up from her excitement over Martin and Sylvia’s advent adventures (a fantastic audio for children at Sparkle Stories). We were on a trip to Arizona when she began listing all the advent activities we were going to take on. I kept telling her “Let’s just get home first…,” while in the back of my mind I was thinking “Christmas? How is it Christmas time already?! I don’t think I can fit one more single thing into my days.” With travel and lofty Christmas goals thrown on the docket, I was tempted to check out of mom role altogether and hide under the covers.
In moments like this, I’ve found it helpful to recall my mindset and excitement as a child, to remember the eyes full of wonder that children view the world through.
Somehow this helps transform my overwhelm into motivation to carve out time for those special moments with the kids. I don’t magically have more time – some things just have to be set aside until after Christmas… aaand the pops and I get far too little sleep!
My helpful tool to this end became the very thing R had decided we were going to do, that I thought I had no time to do – advent cards. She got the idea from the aforementioned audio stories. I am not sure exactly their role in the stories, but for us, each night, I wrote down one activity that would be special for that next day and R would get the note in the morning. This helped me to make sure I covered some important and special advent activities in the midst of my adult-busy. Sometimes it was a playdate with a friend, or making ornaments. Sometimes it was just picking up Christmas books from the library and having a snuggle-read on the couch.
Eventually, this homemade advent pocket calendar will hold all of the cards for the season, but until we finish sewing that, each night I hid the note for the next day somewhere in the Christmas tree. This turned out to be so fun for R that I don’t think she will want to use our advent calendar next year!
Adulting gets so extremely busy. This farm-buying season (among many other life demands) has been an incredible exercise in trying to accomplish tons of responsibilities while maintaining some semblance of a decent childhood for the kids, especially where 100% of their time is in my hands [eek!]. I don’t know that we’ve been successful at this, and we certainly fall short of what my ideals are, but we’ll keep trying.
To all of you who are also performing some balancing act of some kind, may you find a little peace and beauty at this special time of year!
What activities or traditions has your family enjoyed this season?