“…there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.” St. Josemaria Escriva, Passionately Loving the World
You guys. My weeks just stay insane. Last week the baby was sick all week, then I was sick on Friday, then yesterday was catch-up day on errands before my daughter’s violin recital and then date night. I can’t get ahead. But maybe I am not supposed to right now. Maybe God wants me in this place, sick and all, to see through all the “extras”, to see again the most basic and most important things. Maybe this is God’s plan for my Advent, and instead of me preparing my heart and home according to my ideas, He is breaking out the chisel and ever-so-gently (though even gentle nudges can hurt…like not sleeping while up with a sick baby, or being sick myself) re-forming me and preparing me according to His perfect design.
I’ll take that. He knows better than I do. He has the full vision. I only have my whims.
My Advent has gone nothing like I planned. The countdown books and envelopes filled with ideas for things to do are half-finished. The Jesse Tree has 5 ornaments hung. We’ve watched about 2/3 of the Holy Heroes videos. Cards are far from being addressed and mailed. Any homemade gifts I had planned haven’t been started. One was finished weeks ago, and I’ve since lost it. Beautiful coloring pages for the kids and I to color while we listen to Christmas music (yes, I listen to Christmas music in Advent) and drink cocoa are still sitting in the printer, and we haven’t had cocoa. We have barely celebrated the great saints of Advent.
We have set up our Nativities. We do light the candles of the Advent wreath each night at dinner, and light votives each night at bedtime prayers. But, we haven’t prayed the wreath blessing or any special Advent prayers. I am keeping up with the St. Andrew novena, but the kids have only prayed the prayer a handful of times of with me.
You know? It’s better this way. In years past, I’d feel like a failure, or at least that I let myself and the kids down, for not meeting each of my own expectations. I’d have been comparing myself to the craftier, more put-together, cheerier moms and the Pinterest images flying all over the web. This year? I don’t care. I am blissfully failing at and ditching my own Advent plans. Ok, so we are decorating in stages (although, today is my favorite day to put up the tree, and all we managed was dragging the box with our artificial tree upstairs), and we did make it to the Sacrament of Confession on the first Saturday of Advent.
I’m happy to leave behind the Elf tradition (that Elf on the Shelf? A huge pain to me and a huge time-suck in the evenings to set up the silly things and clever scenes when I just want to read or sit in front the Christmas lights). I’m perfectly content to let the kids browse through the stack of not-yet-and-not-going-to-be-wrapped Christmas books any time they want. Our time has been more flexible to not fit in preplanned activities from an Advent countdown calendar. I’m at peace with leaving behind all the extras, the things which are almost frivolous, and settling back into the heart of Advent. It’s about preparing our hearts first, and homes second. So, all those other things? Even the celebrations for some of our favorite saints? They aren’t the heart of the matter. They are extras. Advent is for the heart and soul. It’s for prayer. For peace. For quiet. For reflecting, for hoping, for anticipating. For rest.
When we light the candles at dinner and bedtime, but don’t worry about which day’s prayers for Advent we are supposed to read, which ornament we’re supposed to hang for the Jesse Tree, we are all at peace. We are already anticipating more Light with the birth of Christ with each new candle we light with each Sunday that passes. For us, this year, the candles are simple yet beautiful enough to remind us of the anticipation of Advent. And all the time I’m not spending on prepping for different extra-fun activities and extra-special saint celebrations? I’m spending it reflecting and journaling about the daily Mass readings, and letting His word sink into my heart. I’m spending it reading the 9th book to my toddler, who can’t kick the germs this week but is trying so hard to feel well. I’m spending it with my kids and parents baking and preparing treat bags for 100 college kids as a special pick-me-up before finals week. We’re spending it enjoying each other, and not rushing about from one good thing to another good thing. We’re spending it in calm (when we’re not heading to an appointment to see the pediatrician, that is, or when we’re not waking to a hacking cough from another kid needing cough syrup…). We’re spending this time letting God work in the small things, and bring peace in a subtle, but meaningful and needed way to our home.
I’m happy enough to ditch my Advent plans this year. I know God’s plans are better than my own. Oh, and to celebrate my *joy* in ditching my plans? I dressed liturgically for Guadete Sunday today. And for the first time ever, I’m joining the “what I wore Sunday” crowd.
Shirt: ThredUp (<sign up through this link, and you get $10 towards your first order! I also earn $10 store credit once you place an order.)
Skirt: no idea, I’ve had it for years and still love it
Leggings: White Plum
Boots: Can’t remember
Mirror: was my grandma’s
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