This time of year, more than any other, the pressure is intense to get everything just right. Pressure to be ready, pressure to go above and beyond, pressure to stop focusing on the wrong details, pressure to enjoy the season.
So many mixed messages. "Are you ready? Not much time left. Hurry up! Slow down. More, bigger, better! Simplify. Shop till you drop. Cherish family. Enjoy the season! Remember the meaning of it all." All of the voices whispering. "You're doing it wrong. Get it together. This is of utmost importance and you are blowing it."
Last week sickness hit the family. Sickness. Now. Like I have time for this. As if I don't have enough going on. Sickness.
And when it finally passed, and I took a look around, I saw major setback. I was already behind in my preparations. My house wasn't quite clean enough to start getting out all the decorations. I hadn't even pulled out the Advent stuff. I was so behind. Then add another week of just dragging ourselves through. And do you know what happens to the house while I am waiting on two sick littles? It gets wrecked. Dishes piled up high and so much laundry.
I haven't even had time to address all the Christmas cards. And I have already received two. Two moms that have it more together than I do.
On St. Nicholas Day I forgot to put out their gifts until half way through the day. I had to do the whole, sneak it out and try to pretend they have been there the whole time and no one noticed.
And here we are half way through Advent and we haven't even gotten out the Advent calendar. Or the Jesse tree. We haven't started making homemade ornaments for the Jesse tree like I promise every year we will do "next year." Another year goes by and I still don't even own an Advent wreath.
And all the Pinterest moms are doing it so much better.
I remember my own childhood. I remember doing the Jesse tree every year and lighting the candles on the Advent wreath. I remember excitedly opening the doors on our Advent calendar.
I want my children to have those same memories. To understand what Christmas is really about.
Mom had it together. At least that's the way I remember it. Funny thing is, I don't know for sure. Did we always have all those things every year? Did we ever get half way through Advent before we managed to dig it all out. Maybe mom felt the same way I do and we were just too young to notice. Maybe what really mattered was what we did and not what we didn't do.
Maybe other mothers have it less together than I think they do. My friend, who sent the first card of the season. Confided in me that half her cards went out without stamps. Now she has to readdress and resend all those cards. I'm ashamed to have felt a little relieved when she told me that.
I watch my kids get excited about their little pipe cleaner Advent wreaths. And argue about who will get to put today's part of "The Story of Christmas" on the little tree. And add a little bit of straw yarn to their wrapping paper tube manger to get it ready for the clothespin baby Jesus on Christmas. In the back of my mind I see that box in the closet with all the other Advent items I haven't gotten out. I don't even have the Nativity up! Flashes of the Pinterest board, with all the other amazing ideas to take things above and beyond, fill my head.
Then I hear the Princess telling her brother, "Christmas is not about the presents. It's about baby Jesus's birthday!" I saw her eyes fill up with tears on the Sunday she was too sick to go to church because she didn't want to miss the second purple candle being lit.
I hear them make the connections. Remembering a bible story, thinking to pray for someone, caring for each other and for "Mr. Cool."
Maybe I am doing something right? Or maybe they are learning despite my shortcomings.
I think maybe there is a reason that now more than any other time of year we find ourselves falling short.
It's a pretty good reminder of what it's really all about. Isn't it?
Because if we did have it all together. If we were Pinterest perfect people. We wouldn't even need Christmas.
Christ didn't come for the people who had their acts together. He came for the struggling, for the weak, for the searching.
Even for the moms who are weeks behind on their blog, have a sink full of dishes, half a stack of Christmas cards to address, mount laundry ready to erupt, no Advent wreath, an undisplayed Nativity, and a mess in the corner where the Christmas tree is supposed to go.
Especially for those kinds of moms!
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