Monday, December 5, 2011

Unplugging the Christmas Machine

'Tis the season.  The season of shopping, decorating, holiday parties, baking, wrapping, and anticipating.  All too often in my life, it's the season of extreme busy-ness, "have-tos" and unmet expectations.  This year, I'm unplugging the Christmas machine.

The reality is that with 5 kids, a certain amount of "busy" comes with the territory.  And the equal reality is that much of what is on the family calendar and on the to-do list does not "have" to be done.  This is going to be an Advent season of conscious choices.

Yesterday, for instance, was our foster care agency's Christmas party.  We'd have enjoyed that so much.  But that fun would have been sandwiched between church, picking up a child from a slumber party, my week to cook for the youth at church and Pepper's RE class.  It was already a full day; that "one more thing" was the thing that threatened to be the apple that upset the whole cart.  I said, "No thank you."  I felt a little guilty.  Instead, we had a great day.  There was no pressure getting home from the Second Sunday of Advent.  I had plenty of time to both hang out with the little ones and  get ready for my team's cooking evening.  Everything simply went more smoothly because of that one less thing. 

"Advent" means the beginning, the commencement, and a new start.  Instead of seeing the Advent season as the weeks we speed through to get to Christmas, I'm looking at Advent as a new beginning.  We are preparing our hearts -- and maybe we will have time to prepare the house too.  We are slowing down and taking the scenic route through Advent to Christmas.  By the time we get there, we'll be ready -- I'll be ready. 

Part of BLORA lights display at Fort Hood (2010)
Yes, we will decorate and listen to the Christmas music;  we will bake and shop; we will wrap presents and celebrate with friends but we will not join in the holiday madness.  We'll have no batting coaching, no piano lessons and no "routine" doctor's appointments.  We'll choose carefully the holiday parties we attend and discern between true traditions and holiday habits.  We're unplugging the Christmas machine and plugging into family life.  Happy Advent!