Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Waiting. Anticipating. Preparing. Living.

It's December 1. There is no elf on the shelf. My track record as tooth fairy gives me all the information I need to know it would be a disastrous attempt filled with tears. anger, and disappointment. The kids would be sad, too.  (haha!)

There is arguing. Asher woke Audrey up with his loud and boisterous voice before she was ready. That girl needs her sleep, so it was a rough start. We are all having a substantial amount of trouble minding our own business. Substantial, people. The dog keeps finding markers and we're all tired of chasing him down to get them away, but chase we must because that's a lot easier than cleaning marker off of the carpet. Finding a veggie to eat with lunch was a real challenge for a certain member of the household. The laundry doesn't fold itself.

These are the giant injustices and troubles we are facing today. Aren't we so very fortunate? Yes. Unfortunately, we are also grumpy. Those are real pieces of our real day.

Here are other pieces.
our soothing candle right next to a toddler's baseball glove. Real life, right?
Asher opened the first day of his Advent calendar, and Audrey sat with him in the kitchen and repeated the bible verse over and over in tiny segments until he had it memorized. "We say it again?" he requested. So they did it again. "We go tell mama?" So they came to tell me. "We go tell dada?" So they walked downstairs to tell him. "We say it again. 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.'" (Isaiah 9:1)

We sat down and read our advent books together. This year I bought Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. We lit a candle, which is not attached to an advent wreath because we might still have one, but if we do it's in the garage in a box of Christmas decorations that we have yet to set up, so a random candle will have to do the trick. At any rate, we lit a candle and got lost in the story of Jotham. We heard the story of waiting and pursuing and being pursued, of perfect love coming from a long line of imperfection. We thought and talked about being the answer to someone else's needs and prayers and accepting the help of others when necessary. The kids colored or played legos and Asher distracted us a million (million? maybe billion.) times and we chased down a marker-chewing puppy, but we also sat and rested in the good news of the season, the good news of what came all those years ago, what is now, and what is to come.
plus an abacus, obviously.

We went through our December calendar and wrote down the acts of kindness that we'd do periodically throughout the month. Gifts for people at our Classical Conversations group and at church, the mail carrier and trash person, money and a note taped to the vending machine, a new bookmark and note placed inside the kids' favorite book at the library so the next person who reads it finds a surprise, hot cocoa for someone working outside. Little things to hopefully brighten a day and bring a smile.

We learned about history and science and spelling and writing and found far away places on maps. We laughed. Then we snapped again, but then we laughed again.

It's not one or the other. We don't fail if we argue. We don't win if we hug. Life is both and all and everything mixed up into one year and month and week and day and hour and minute.

In our mistakes and our love, we wait. We anticipate. We prepare. We live. At our house, this season is about celebrating Jesus' birth. We also throw in some Christmas cookies, a few low key decorations, and santa, but really, we're waiting for Jesus. It's another chance to quiet and center our hearts in the middle of a time when things are usually running at an even more frenetic pace than usual. So we light our little mismatched candle, open up a good book, sit, relax, and wait. We scale back activities, pick two kinds of cookies to make instead of 10, ignore pinterest, fight the urge to overindulge and overspend, and do the things that matter to us, that honor our traditions and values.

We give ourselves the time and space necessary to wait, anticipate, prepare, and live. Oh sure, argue and NOT mind our own business and freak about not finding the right gifts also make the list, but we don't get stuck there. We had about 27 do-overs today. I think the last one finally stuck and we are moving and grooving now.

Maybe that should be our goal: understand that we'll make mistakes, but don't get stuck in them. Shake the mud off and keep moving forward. Honor our traditions with our time and space.

Happy Holidays. Don't worry about the neighbors' light displays or the number of gifts under the tree. It sounds hard, but it really doesn't have to be.

Wait. Anticipate. Prepare. Live.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? 

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