I love this time of year.
Last year was my first time in a long time of celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday rather than just a secular one. I tried to add in all the Catholic things (Advent wreath, Jesse tree, St. Nicholas day and other feast days, etc) while keeping everything we had been doing before (visiting Santa, baking Christmas cookies, our Advent calendar experiences, etc). I ended up feeling a little overwhelmed, but we had a fun time anyway. I enjoyed learning about and beginning some new traditions.
This year, I am feeling utterly overwhelmed by it all. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s because we’re doing real homeschooling (beyond preschool), part-time Catholic school, and have just gotten two puppies. Maybe it’s because we are going to be traveling for the week of Christmas, so I have had to ship almost all of our gifts to my parent’s house and have less time to get everything done before we leave. I don’t know what my problem is. But I’ve decided that I just have to let some things go if I want to maintain my sanity and keep focused on what is really important about Christmas.
One example of letting things go: From the moment we got our decorations out, I decided the Advent calendar of years past, with a different fun experience for each day, was going to have to bite the dust. I hung it up. I just didn’t do anything else with it (I didn’t even take out the cards from last year!).
I just can’t do that one anymore.
I have had some nice successes in my efforts at seasonal celebrating and observances. And also some plans that seemed fabulous in my head and then were just big flops. For example:
*I made some lovely new ornaments for our Jesse Tree and ordered a book to go with them (courtesy of Kendra, how awesome is she to share?). I also got the DVD from Holy Heroes with cute little videos for each day with the readings. Unfortunately, we haven’t actually done the readings (or watched the video segment) since day 5 (5 days ago).
*I made it to Mass with my children for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Monday. I set Miss’s Immaculate Conception Saint Anne doll on the counter in place of honor and talked to the girls about the meaning of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception, not Jesus’s).
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do any other activities I had planned to commemorate the day. No special dinner. No dessert. I didn’t even get around to giving them the coloring page I have had ready to go in our liturgical year binder for months.
*I wrapped Christmas books for each day of Advent, in purple and pink to go with each week. We have kept up with the daily opening of the books, but we haven’t done a great job of keeping up with the reading of them. Which kind of misses the point, right? Geez.
*I rocked St. Nicholas’s feast day. The girls put their shoes on the hearth and they each got a couple of these adorable little saint dolls, some chocolate coins, a Veggie Tales Christmas DVD, and a Twilight Turtle (they have always loved their cousins’ turtles, and I got them on sale from Zulily).
St. Nicholas left a note explaining that he hopes the stars/light from the turtles will remind the girls of how God created the heavens and earth and stars and sun and everything else, and also of how Jesus’s light is always with them. Huge. Hit. We watched DVDs about Saint Nicholas and read books about him. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had some new play nativities for the girls I had planned to leave as Saint Nicholas gifts as well. They’re still sitting in my basement.
*I took the big girls to see The Nutcracker. It was a special date they have been looking forward to. They loved the Nutcracker stories we read last year and our trip to the local art museum that has a beautiful Nutcracker display throughout. It really was fun, though a touch long for them.
Unfortunately, though I had purchased a new Nutcracker book for them this year, we didn’t manage to read it before going to the ballet, so the girls kept asking, “Who is that? What’s happening now?” because the whole story wasn’t fresh in their minds (nor in mine).
They still loved it, and have been playing “Nutcracker” ever since. With costumes even. Lass is usually Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy. Miss is usually the Nutcracker:
In addition to all the above partial successes, I have also managed to get most of my shopping done, to make a couple of Christmas crafts with the girls, and to remember to move our elf every night (except for that one time when Lass came down early and said, “Hey! He’s still in that same spot!” and I convinced her that she had just woken up too early and needed to go back to bed for a little while to give him time to decide where to go).
See? Lots of successes.
I tend to have big ideas about all the amazing things I want to do with my kids at this time of year. Then reality comes calling and I have to make adjustments. Instead of fretting about not doing enough, I’m working on just being happy with where we are. I could get caught up in doing activities and crafting and baking and going here and there to see and do, but then I would be missing the whole point. I spent ten years missing the whole point, so I don’t want to do that anymore.
We will probably catch up on our Jesse Tree readings/ornaments tomorrow morning. I’ll make more of a point to read the Christmas books we open each day and the ones we missed. We’ll go see Santa, and go to the Nutcracker display at the museum, and bake cookies, and make more crafts, and observe the feast days of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Lucy. And if we miss something, it will be fine. Because we won’t miss celebrating Jesus’s birth most of all.
Remembering the whole point of it all has been one of my very favorite successes.