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December 11, 2011 at 2:49 am (Faith, Kids) (, )

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Bah…hmmm

December 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm (Faith, Kids) (, )

I’m half-assing Advent this year, and I’m a little worried I’m going to do the same for Christmas.

Thus far I have done the absolute bare minimum, which in my case equals going to Mass and singing at church. (Oh, and I bought some kind of pathetic patio pots with evergreens in them, but honestly, they look so sad and woebegone, we were sort of better off without them.) I hate excuses, hate hearing them, hate giving them, but I do have some to account for my seasonal apathy just the same. We are in construction hell, (for the sixteenth month, but who’s counting?); we have an eight-month-old puppy I’ll call the Holy Terrier, whose self-appointed job it is to eat Polly Pockets, Barbies and My Little Ponies, bark loudly at every movement, and jump all over every visitor to the house; my husband is traveling every other day it seems; my mother-in-law has moved in with us, and what can I even say about that; and lastly we’re not even going to be here for Christmas, since my father-in-law is taking us to Mexico for ten days.

I don’t have a “To Do” list, I have a “Didn’t Do” list.  I didn’t get any Advent calendars this year, much to the kids’ dismay. (“You know I don’t actually OWE you candy every day of Advent, right? Or cheap plastic toys? You realize the point of Advent is getting ready for Jesus’ birth, not getting stuff?” That may or may not have come out of my mouth as I talked to my almost-nine-year-old.) I haven’t done ANY Christmas shopping yet. Christmas cards? Forget it, I haven’t even gotten the picture taken yet. Decorate the tree? It hardly even seems worth it to put up the tree when we’re going to be gone for such a long time. I can’t find the Jesse tree ornaments we made from Shrinky Dinks last year (you can’t believe how awesome they are, but you’ll have to take my word for it, since I repeat, I can’t find the expletive things in the morass of boxes in my basement.) I haven’t been able to go to any of the Advent prayer breakfasts a friend is having, and I’m not sure I’d be able to pray if I did make it to one.  I do have an Advent wreath on the table, but life has been so crazy recently that by the time I get dinner on the table, I sort of resent taking the time to say our prayers and sing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

It’s nothing new to feel stressed and overwhelmed during the crazy pre-Christmas rush. On some level I think we all realize that it’s insane. I see those bumper stickers and signs – “Jesus is the reason for the season!” “Keep Christ in Christmas!” – and if I were just trying to pare down to basics so we could focus on what’s important, that would be one thing, but I think in my heart, I really sort of wish I could skip the whole thing this year.

And yet…I’m not quite at Grinch level yet. I do sing along to the carols my oldest daughter plays on the piano. My heart skipped a beat at the gorgeous lights at the house on the end of my block. And then this morning I unearthed the Christmas books and read Babushka by Sandra Ann Horn to my youngest. Do you know the book? It has become my favorite, and you’ll probably see why.

Babushka

It’s about an old woman who only sees the smudge on the window when the Star shines through, who won’t let the Angel in because of her muddy feet and who tells the three kings she can’t come see the new baby king because she has to do the washing up. She does make it to Bethlehem, although she gives away the gifts she was bringing to Jesus on the road. Babushka is surprised to see her gifts when she finally arrives at the manger. “Everything you gave with love, you gave to my son, also,” says Mary. (My voice always cracks at this point, and I think my children must wonder why I act out Mary so peculiarly.”

So I think there might be hope for me this year. Last week at Mass, Father Jeff told us to find and choose Joy. Maybe if I can work on these endless house tasks with a happy heart, be grateful for the companionship of my naughty puppy, be thankful that my husband is employed, be compassionate and patient with the newest member of our household, and look forward to the sun of Mexico, I really will be preparing for Christmas at the same time.

And you never know, maybe I’ll get the tree up this weekend too.

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