Thursday, December 26, 2013
ADVENT: WHAT WORKED: WHAT DIDN'T
I started this Advent a little behind. Every year I have the same sort of "shocked" feeling after Thanksgiving. how did this most wonderful season spring itself on me? My attachment to Advent is special. It was during my first Advent here in Sitka that I fell in love with my beautiful Catholic faith.. To say my heart was on fire for our Lord is putting it mild. I have never been able to recapture that intense fire since that wonderful season. I don't usually speak for Pete...but I think he would agree. We both became smitten that Advent in 2004.
This year I went in with low expectations. And now that I am on the other side of the blessed season I think I may have set them too low. I'm not beating myself up here...or even comparing myself to the mega Catholic mama bloggers (I wish I had time to read what amazing things they did this year). I really aimed low and I hit my target. I might be tempted to list some excuses. The first excuse being I was in Seattle over spending for the first Sunday of Advent. I could not set the tone. Plus I had no candles and my wreath was crushed from the move.....
And while I am tempted to list excuses I will just add that the first year of living in a new place always throws me. And I have been thrown....
But anyway I'm not here to list excuses. I'm here to keep a record for me to go back and read next year. Here I go:
What Worked This Advent:
#1 Pete signed us up to cook and host our church's soup kitchen. That was probably the most redeeming part of our Advent. Having all of us serving and cooking for the needy in this community felt exactly right.
#2 We did not buy our kids any electronic devices. This was a big deal here in this house. Each of my school age kids asked for an I-Pod mini and each were sad when I told them a firm no prior to any Christmas List making. Telling them this early helped with expectations. Now...this is where I write what I think about these kids in this house....not your kids in your house...
I hate everywhere I go kids are playing on those things. We have I-Touches and each has the screen cracked. We rarely let them on it to do anything but make movies...I have never been a big fan of electronics and more and more I see them becoming just another temptation kids have to fight against.
When we are here together I want to really be here together...not plugged in...or wishing they were.
#3 I personally prayed a lot this advent. My prayer life has been getting better lately and I'm not sure if it has anything to do with Advent but I'm going to list it because I feel sad that my what worked list could really only have been 2 points!!
What Did Not Work:
#1 Being too busy. This is really hard for me to admit because I like a party, or 2, or 3. And for whatever reason we got invited to a lot of events this season. We all had fun at each one, but the times we were not engaged in an event we were all recovering and I never felt like I seized the moment here at home. How could I have done this better...that is what I hope to figure out .
#2 Buying way too many gifts for our kids. I bought a lot. Mostly clothes and "gear" for living up here..but I did it big (big for us...6 kids makes a lot look like we do it big...but I really feel like I did). When I went to Seattle I bought so much stuff. I was overwhelmed with the possibility of buying things from a store instead of the computer that I got carried away. It took me 2 full days of wrapping and I felt sick the entire time..how did I do that? We are a cash family and all was bought with cash...so I knew we were spending more than planned...but we just did. Pete and I have been talking over point 2 for the last few days and I just want to blame it on #2 from the above list...it's hard to adjust the first year???...maybe???
#3 I made absolutely nothing for anybody. Nobody realized it but me. I did not slow down at all to hand- make gifts and nobody even noticed....
#4 Some how I don't feel like we focused on Christ enough. We were in the Christmas pageant. We actually all made it to confession the weekend before Christmas. But I always felt like we sandwiched "advent" in between so we could do the more important task of having fun and being busy.
#5 I felt tired this Advent. So I feel like I usually choose the easy way out...movie instead of Advent book....keeping a clean kitchen instead of baking....
So...come Christmas morning Pete and I felt kinda empty. We looked around and felt a little sad. We kinda blew it.
But...we do have the Christmas season to try and make things right. I'm sitting here writing after we took a family hike and had a cold and rainy picnic . The little kids are out with Pete riding bikes and scooters. Dinner will be Chili and I will light a Christmas candle. I can't take back the toys, clothes and time I wasted....but I can move forward.
ONE MORE THING RIGHT
Our priest passed away a few weeks ago and we witnessed a beautiful death. That was a gift to our family. Until we get a permanent priest we have different priests coming and going. On Gaudete Sunday a priest gave a homily that has served us and will continue to bless us.
He spoke of joy coming from serving Jesus, Others, You. The kids all heard that and they felt a connection to those words. We all used JOY through advent as a reminder of what brings true joy. It helped! Praise God!!