Determined this year to cultivate serenity, quiet anticipation and joy in my home during the Advent season, I am trying to wrap up as much of the holiday preparation as I can these weeks before Thanksgiving. I want this fast-approaching time for my family to be spent in a beautiful spirit of prayer and sacrifice, while immersing us in the excitement that goes hand-in-hand with waiting.
It helps to be a minimalist during this time of year (though it's causing trouble in other areas, but that's for another post). I have only two presents to purchase for my daughters, one kind of cookie to make, and some very simple home decorating to do. It's much too easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the holidays. Stress can quickly take over, putting a damper on all that we mothers strive to do for our families and friends. We want to do it all, to please everyone, and we want to do it well.
I remember last year at this time, admiring the myriad of ideas and incredible creativity among the great moms in the blogosphere. I was in awe. So many beautiful ideas, so much inspiration, and so little time.
Those ideas will begin to surface again now, as we approach the season of Advent. The baking, the crafts and the abundant purple adornment in our homes can enrich the anticipation of Christ's birth in the hearts of our children. And they should. But I can't help but feel that simplicity too will contribute to the richness of Advent for my family. It is a time of waiting, of watchfulness, of preparation not really for entertaining guests, but for a Sacred Birth. Yes, there will be dinners to prepare, cookies to make and packages to mail. But even those preparations can be done simply and beautifully and still be appreciated by their recipients. Homes do not need a top-to-bottom cleaning. A freshening and a bit of order will do just fine. After all, Mary gave birth to the Saviour of the world in a stable - The Guest of guests borne not in a warm and lavishly decorated home, but in a cold barn on straw and amongst cattle.
This year as I admire the plethora of plans and crafty ideas around me (and there are many, many terrific options!), I will choose for my own household those things that will best suit my family and cultivate in us a spirit of joyful anticipation. Enough to enliven our hearts, but not so much that I become overwhelmed. I know all too well that when I am overwhelmed, so is my family.