Saturday, December 3, 2011

December Happenings

[I've had ones I like better for sure, but this header is fun, I think.  Themed ones are a little harder.]

Whew! December.  The most busy time of the year.  My mom told me the other day that there had never been a point in her adult life where the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas wasn't busier than all other times of the year.  Every year, I plan on starting fun traditions, making sweet memories, giving our time to serve others and spending time just relaxing and taking it in.  And every year I fail at most or all of it.  I'm learning to let things go more and I'm glad of that.  I'm recognizing that I don't have to jump on the bandwagon of every single trend (Elf on a Shelf, anyone?) and that if we bake Slice and Bakes instead of homemade and feed the reindeer bagged Chex Mix and don't get a picture with Santa, no one will be the lesser mom for it.  If our Christmas card isn't perfect, we can still share with our friends how blessed we feel this year and if we don't do formal Advent activities, we can still encourage the kids and each other in this beautiful season of anticipation.

Here's the plans for the month:
- This weekend one of my good friends from college is getting married.  I'm really thrilled to be sharing in her special day, but juggling babysitting has been a little stressful.  Peyton is working and I'm just so very thankful for such sweet, generous grandparents.  Peyton's mom is taking care of AP basically the whole day and my mom is going to take care of Graves and bring him up to the wedding location so I can feed him right before (boyfriend still *hates* the bottle).

- Just today, the guy doing our floor started.  We're having brick pavers laid in the kitchen, sunroom, and laundry room. The guy was SO reasonable (like half of what the other estimates were), but he's a nurse full time and does this on the side.  As a result, the project is going to be done in stages and will probably take several weeks.  I'm just hoping for it to be finished by Christmas. 

- Speaking of, I have not gotten a single decoration down.  We're getting the tree early next week and I want to decorate that day and possibly the next and be done.

- I have however accomplished two important (to me) things: I got our Christmas cards ordred and purchased our Christmas morning pajamas.  Now I have to write the letter, address all the cards when they come in and wash the jammies so they'll be ready for Christmas morning.  Our theme is SO cute this year and I was so thrilled to find four sets that coordinate at a very reasonable price.

- I really do want to focus on a FEW traditions I care about establishing.  I made a list last year and they're all very do-able.  I'm really excited about driving around and showing AP the lights and stuff this year.  I was thinking we may even take her to Canton (a little nearby town with a very quaint "square") and show her that. That kind of magic is probably my second favorite thing about the Christmas season (the first is the music).

- We haven't been as intentional about serving others as I had hoped this year.  We've always done Operation Christmas Child and last year we were so strongly passionate that we gave a (now it's no longer) anonymous donation to pay the shipping on all the boxes our church sent that still needed it. Well, we totally dropped the ball this year.  We are ringing bells for the Salvation Army next weekend and I hope we'll find a couple of more things to be involved in as well.  I really just want my eyes to be more open to those in need and those that are hurting or lonely this holiday season.

- I'm going to do a whole post about it soon, but Peyton and I have been having a LOT of discussions about the way we want Christmas to look around here.  I grew up with a ton of presents on Christmas morning and it was so much fun, but we want to make sure we keep Christ the focus.  I know you can do presents and have fun and still be very Jesus centered, but we've just been trying to figure out how that will look for our family practically.

I think that's it.  I am taking deep breaths and just trying to relax and not get caught up in the hustle of this time of year.  And I'm trying to let go of the expectations I put on myself to do everything and be everywhere and just prioritize what is important.


Christi said...

I love your post. Just a few of my thoughts.

1. If serving others during this time of the year isn't practical for you more so than what you already do, then don't. Why? Because serving others is a year long need and so many only want to do it during the holidays. One option that you could look into is serving Meals with Wheels but as you know there is TONS of needs, and we all have our special gifts of giving. I think that by what Peyton and you (at least what is shared on the blog) that you are showing your children each and every day about the importance of giving to others. Good job!

2. I think with that being written above and going along with what I think that you wrote, is that Jesus wouldn't want us to cram a whole bunch of stuff into our lives during this season. That He prefers for us to be intentional and to enjoy/think about each action we make. A Sabbath, He requests.

3. As your children get older it will be harder to not be so busy during this time of year and sometimes you might decide that some trendy stuff (like Elf on a Shelf) may be a little fun for the family. We started it last year as my children were older. I honestly wasn't sure about it. We don't talk Santa in our house (we never have just because we didn't feel called to) but the Elf (Elfey) has brought a lot of joy and conversation into our lives. But with that, we do less in other ways. If I don't get fancy cards or pictures out this year, then so be it. With working, being involved with church and my children there is little time some days. So we do open advent calendars (or a house) but it's done while we are reading from a Max Lucado book on this season, it has allowed for the conversation to occur with our children and for that I'm thankful. Each family will find what works.

I still am working on enjoying buying for the children but not over doing it. About making sure that I continually teach and show that the season is not about material gifts but the gifts given from God. I don't know if I'll ever have it down as much as I'd like but I pray about it continually.

This year we have started a simple Jesus tree. A little, simple, bare tree that each day will have one of His names placed on it. Another activity to keep track of but yet an opportunity for us to continually talk about Jesus and keep the children interested. I have had a lot of fun making ornaments for the tree with the kids and talking about each name they have chosen. It might not be something that works for us next year or in 10 years, but it's one way that works for our family.

I feel so blessed to be able to share this season with my babies.

Christi said...

Each year our activities might change due to weather, time, etc. I so want to see a Living Nativity too.

Last weekend (I work weekends so it's hard to have a lot of family time) we drove about 2 hours south and got to enjoy a holiday light Walk Through the Bible activity. It was/is free and there are hot cocoa and cookies given and animals to love on. Oh it was so wonderful to take that 1/2 mile walk around the lights and share the Bible with my babies. So I've had to tell myself that if we don't get to see the traditional lights at other places like the zoo, etc that it's okay. Oh how I'd love to do EVERYthing with them (my babies) and yet nothing more than snuggling on the couch laughing together. I wish you lived closer to me as the lighted farm would be a great thing for your family with little ones.

Carrie said...

1.) I always have BIG plans for things I'm going to do with the kids and rarely follow through. (Not just Christmas stuff.) Glad I'm not alone! I just had an idea: we should do a kiddie craft day with our kids sometime! It'd be so fun to do it for Christmas, but if it doesn't happen before then, that's ok.

2.) We don't do the Elf on the Shelf (or even Santa) and I think my kids will be fine and have wonderful memories of Christmas. I hope so at least!

3.) I want to go to Canton too! We went last year, and Aubrey really loved it.

Mary Louis Quinn said...

You should definitely try to make it to Canton to see the lights! C loves doing that!

And as far as presents go, I have a friend who just does 3 presents for each kid to represent the 3 gifts from the magi. Keeps it simple and Christ-focused. Just an idea...

Susannah said...

Wait, where do y'all live? We're in Cumming, and I love the square in Canton! Fun!