We’ve now officially got LESS THAN ONE WEEK before Christmas. And (don’t let the caps lock fool you), I’m actually not sweating it.
Sure, I’ve still got half of my shopping left to do, all of my wrapping, my tree to finish decorating, all of my other Christmas decorating to do, my cards to send out (once they arrive, that is!), my food contributions to our family parties to figure out, my own Christmas meals to plan, a snack for my son’s school party to make… and a pedicure to fit in before my gift certificate (last year’s Christmas present) expires.
So, I should totally be sweating it. (Except for the pedicure part.)
But I’m not! This year, I am – and I can’t believe I can say this without rolling my eyes – actually enjoying the run-up to Christmas and even feeling peaceful about it. Thank the Lord! (Seriously – thank you, Lord.) I definitely feel like my lack of anxiety this season has been a blessing from above and has had very little to do with my own actions. It certainly has nothing to do with my level of preparation.
Rather, I have a feeling that the following simple favorites from this week have contributed to my Christmasy peace and joy:
We’re not used to getting December snow in this part of the country, so the whole “White Christmas” thing is usually just a fantasy. (Come Christmas Day, it likely will be again: after getting up to a balmy 66 degrees on Sunday, we should enjoy a nice, cool 40 degrees on Christmas.) However, we’ve had snow covering the ground here for a week-and-a-half, and it’s done so much to put me in the Christmas mindset. It’s just so easy to get excited about Christmas when you’ve got snow-covered evergreens and hollies to look at every day.
Breakfast with Santa
On Saturday, Brennan and I took the boys to our parish’s Breakfast with Santa. It was our little family’s first and I think I might have been more excited for it than the boys were. It’s yet another one of those things that makes me pinch myself: Do I really have my own little family now? Are my boys really big enough to understand and enjoy such things? It was such a joy. The parish put on a lovely breakfast, Mrs. Claus read stories to the children, there was a craft center, they circulated a Happy Birthday to Jesus card for the kids to sign, there were some child-sized cardboard nativity figures for little ones to check out, and of course there was The Man himself. My 3-year-old happily sat on Santa’s lap, but was a little quiet and shy about telling him what he’s really hoping for (a guitar). And of course, the 2-year-old wanted nothing to do with Santa.
Our Christmas Tree
As long as it takes me to decorate a large Christmas tree, I just love doing it. There are few things that relax me as much as, one by one, unwrapping years’ worth of Christmas ornaments and finding the perfect spots for them on our tree. The memories, the lights, the smell, the (if I’m lucky) Christmas music in the background… it’s dreamy. And I have to admit, I’m a little greedy about it. I’ve been doing the whole tree by myself since I was a teenager. I don’t like to be rushed through it, so if people are just willing to leave me be, we’re all happy campers. Over the past couple of years I’ve acquired a bunch of child-friendly (mostly fabric) ornaments. This year I set them aside and let the boys go to town placing them (and removing them… and replacing them…) on the lowest branches. I expect the year will come when they’ll want to (and be able to) do more, but for now, this is the perfect arrangement for us.
Driving Around to Look at Christmas Lights
Monday night, I fed the boys their dinner at a decent hour, Brennan came home from work a little early, we got the boys suited up in their pajamas, and we all loaded into the car. We spent an hour driving around, looking at Christmas lights. It. Was. Lovely. Peering out on the ice and snow from our warm car, looking at the thousands of lights in all their joyful/beautiful/tacky glory, hearing the boys’ “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” and cries of “My side!” or “My hide!” as they spotted one decked-out house after another… It was priceless. Too often, my husband and I tend to focus on productivity in our “free” time (we’re the getting-stuff-done type on the weekends, not the doing-fun-stuff type). It was so nice to take a little break, get out of the house for an hour, and just enjoy being together.
The other day, our sister-in-law sent a lovely little set of nativity figurines for the boys to play with. As I took them out of the box, I explained to the boys the meaning of each piece and its place in the nativity story. I moved the figures around to act out the story and I reviewed with the boys who each figure represented. They got a real kick out of it. They already had the Little People set and enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’d ever physically acted out the story with them. Now, I keep finding them playing with their nativity figurines and – maybe I’m imagining it, but – there seems to be more meaning to that play than there was before. It’s a real delight to witness.
Enjoy this last week of Advent, everyone. Good luck with your Christmas preparations and don’t forget to do a little “soaking up” of the beauty in this season. (Also, stop on over to Hallie’s for more Five Favorites!)