Well, here we are guys, the week of Christmas. It’s finally here, how crazy is that? After putting off the Christmas vibes for what seems like several months (because, let’s be real, we’ve been seeing and hearing Christmas stuff in the stores since August), December flew by and we’re able to officially celebrate on Friday.
How are you feeling about it? Are you ready?
I found myself reflecting on how Advent has been going during a (rare) quiet moment last week. It is amazing to me how fast these past few weeks have gone by. I know I have mentioned it time and time again, but it was a busy month for us. Besides spending time with both girls and trying to keep some sense of routine for them, both Reece and I were working a ton. Our weekends were pretty non-existent, given that he was either working at the Christmas tree farm (you can see our family pics HERE) and I had sessions every weekend. We are both grateful for the extra income this month and also found ourselves cherishing those few nights and days the four of us were all together.
But truthfully, while I was thinking about this special season I found myself feeling like I failed at Advent this year.
Yes, we managed to get our advent wreath up on time and were only a couple days late with our candles (thank you, Amazon Prime, for same day delivery after I gave up looking for the extra set I swore I bought last year).
Yes, we did set up our nativity scene and shared the experience with B.
We have a tree, our house is decorated. Miraculously, most of our gifts are already wrapped and I managed to be somewhat crafty this year with the wrapping paper.
We kept up my family’s tradition of visiting Christmas lights and even took B to see Santa this year. In case you’re wondering, she had a death grip on Reece the whole time and a picture with Santa was not even considered as an option.
Sounds pretty good, right? And don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret any of it. I think we did really well with having a 4-month old and a 2-year old.
I feel like I failed; however, because at the beginning of the season I wanted so bad to have a heart of charity and instead, I fell into the trap of making sure everyone had the perfect (or near-perfect) present. And then I got stressed about money when we are still so fortunate to afford to heat the house, have food on the table and still purchase gifts for others. There are many people this season who have far less.
I planned to set the example for my daughters (mainly B, since M doesn’t know what is going on) that while presents are special ways of showing friends and family we should also remember those who may not have friends and family to visit this year. Instead, I got scared and kept the girls at home because I thought it would be too hard to take them both to St. Vincent de Paul to donate items, or to the food bank to donate food.
I wanted to emphasize to B that the whole reason we are celebrating Christmas in the first place is because God sent his only son to live with us because He loved us so much. While the details are still a little hard to grasp for her, I do believe she can understand big concepts like this. I tried to explain it in the beginning, but I feel like she has heard more about Santa Claus and his reindeer than she has about Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
At times, I focused far too much on my other job (photography) and got annoyed when I couldn’t edit or blog or post or answer emails.
I’ve been overwhelmed, stressed and tired. As a result, I have been snappy, short-tempered and not the mom I want to be.
It is both embarrassing and humbling to admit all of this to you. At the same time, though, I want to share these things because it is a valuable lesson for me and a good reminder that none of us are perfect.
Thank God I recognized all this the week before Christmas. If there is one thing I find comfort in, it is knowing that God still loves me and that there is time for me to have a second chance.
So, this week, I’m taking a serious break from social media and my photography business so I can just be with my family and focus on what is really important.
We still have some presents to wrap. If I can, I am going to involve B in the wrapping (which has already proven to be a huge test of patience for me). I will explain to her who the gifts are for, and how special that person is.
Reece and I have a donate pile outside of our bedroom. We also have extra blankets we could donate. I will make my way down to SVdP so those items can be available in case someone needs them before next weekend. We also have a change jar sitting by our cookbooks. I will take B to the grocery store so she can put the coins in the Salvation Army can.
I also commit to talking a little less about Santa Claus and more about Jesus’ birthday. Little miss B is pretty smart (in my own opinion at least). It won’t take much, but just a little more conversation about the reason for the season will go a long way.
I am all about transparency, so by committing to these things publicly I will feel held accountable. With that being said, if I slip up and find myself getting caught in the materialism, I also commit to not raking myself over the coals for it. Instead, I will recognize what is going on, ask God for grace, and move forward.
Maybe some of this resonates with you, maybe it doesn’t. Perhaps you were able to find the balance between charity and everything else this season. Or, maybe you haven’t given it much of a thought.
Regardless of how you feel this season has gone so far, I invite you to join in on this Advent gut check and evaluate if there is anything you would like to change this week. Feel free to add a comment on what you’ll be doing these final days before Christmas if you would like to join in on holding ourselves accountable.
Here’s to living intentionally this week and beyond.
A prayer for the fourth week of Advent
As we enter this fourth and final week of Advent, we just want to say thank you. Thank you for loving us, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Thank you for giving us this life to live and we ask that you please guide us to be the best version of ourselves.
Lord, it has been a busy season. There are times where we may have forgotten the whole reason why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place and for that, we are sorry. We ask that you guide our hearts and our minds this final week of Advent so that we may fully embrace the gift that you have given us, your Son, Jesus Christ.
Bless those who are struggling this season, whether it be with illness or feelings of hopelessness or loneliness. Help us be the light for others, through our thoughts, our actions, and our words.
In your name, we pray.