Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Season of Preparation

It's only December 3rd, but it feels like something is missing from our Christmas season. I remember things being happier, merrier, and just more joyful in past times. That feeling is missing this year. To be honest, it was missing last year too. Maybe even the year before that? Maybe it was gradual. 

Why though? We've done the usual traditions: 
  • The tree was put up on time in our standard fashion.
  • We put out Amber's LEGO Winter Village and built the newest piece to it
  • The wooden advent calendar is out and in use. 
  • Amber's LEGO advent calendar is out and in use
  • We even put up outside lights for the first time since 2001
  • I've been shopping online and packages are arriving daily. And while this isn't how I've always done it, it is how I've shopped since Amazon came about. 
  • We've listened to Christmas music at home and in the car 
  • Amber has been playing Christmas music on her flute, but I haven't had time to play piano. 
  • We've watched the Polar Express with Amber-safe hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies 
  • We celebrated my mom's 75th birthday yesterday complete with a girls' shopping day, lunch and fancy birthday dinner. 
We are missing a lot of the holiday food with Amber's restricted diet, but as mentioned above we have versions of many. And baking historically wasn't started this early in December. 

So what's the problem? What's missing? 

We haven't gone to Advent Wednesday night church services forever; mainly because Fred could not get home in time and I didn't want to drag Amber out by myself.  We did go to Amber's parochial school Christmas programs and Sunday School programs. Neither of those happen anymore. We won't be going to midweek Advent church this year either as evenings are so hard on Amber and Fred still won't be able to make it home in time. 

We missed church this past Sunday, which was the first Sunday in Advent. I was disheartened about it, however Amber was very sick. Not with the flu but her dysautonmia. She gave all she could on Thanksgiving day and it took her days to recover. Sunday morning she could not get out of bed. She looked horrible, her blood pressure was scary low, and in her words, "I feel awful...horrible, yucky." And she promptly went back to sleep with no memory of the conversation. She was confused when Noon came and she was not at church, but in bed. 

We've also not done any Advent devotions at home. None. We have a very lovely Advent wreath, that's not actually a wreath. Yet it has gone unused for two years, sitting out like a random decoration. 

This morning I laid in bed trying to decide how I was to accomplish the day's tasks and feeling overwhelmed again. Instead of dealing with the matters at hand I chose to begin catching up on some of my favorite blogs. I saw pictures and descriptions of families celebrating this season of anticipation together by studying the Bible and with projects that remind them of the purpose of Christmas. 

Suddenly I decided this was possibly our problem. We lost our focus. I frantically started searches for advent devotions and projects that could "fix us". In the end, I went with the Jesse Tree paper ornaments we already had, yet didn't even use for a whole season. I reprinted the missing 3 ornaments and laminated them all this morning. Then for good measure, I downloaded Journey to the Manger, which has now also been printed, laminated, and hung for use.

Still, if we look at these devotions as just another thing to do for Christmas they become no better than the tree, lights and LEGOS.  There are here to remind us, to teach us and prepare us.  Not to become another item on the checklist.

I've focused so much on my checklists lately that I lost track of just being present in life and why I do everything on those lists. I was too concerned about Amber's health, doing everything I promised for the homeschool co-op, finishing the adoptive parent classes / social worker visits, ensuring Amber meets her core hours while actually learning, and trying my best to help my child have a happy life. 

So my gift to myself and my family this December is to be more purposeful and enjoy the season. I will not beat myself up when I eat off my diet so that I can enjoy a dinner with my family. I will not freak out when I have to teach a class without every last minute scheduled out because I spent the planning time with my family. And I will make time for what I know is important.


  1. Good for you. This is such a wonderful season, but with so much in our society, there are limitless choices and things to do. I hope you find the things to do that make for a happy family season.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Making time for what we know is important, and not letting the busyness of the season outweigh the joyfulness of the meaning behind the season: those two things are the best! You have been such an attentive mother to Amber as she battles this disease, and I know it must be hard to let yourself relax, but I hope you find time to do that.