Thursday, November 8, 2007

Christmas Planning and Preparation

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.


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

This is a good reminder, Kristen. Thank you. You're spot on in saying that if the mom is overwhelmed, so is the family!

Do you have any good ideas for ways to celebrate Advent with small children? My oldest is 2.5 and I think he's old enough to appreciate some "getting ready for Jesus' birth" sorts of things, but I'm not quite sure what to do.

Dee ( said...

I want so much to keep things simple and not to be caught up in a whirlwind with the rest of the world. I know that how my girls grow up seeing me respond to the approaching Christmas holiday will likely be how they in turn, respond when they are mothers. I'd like to be a good example. You inspire me, Kristen.
I'm curious about the two gifts for your daughters, too. I feel like my girls have all that they need but yet I do want them to have some gifts under the tree without duplicating something they already own.

stephanie said...

Thanks for the reflection, and reminder. I really need to think about what brings our family peace.

Julie said...

What a great reminder about simplicity and anticipation during the season of Advent! The holidays certainly can be stressful... especially when we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Your thoughtful planning and preparation is inspiring!

Kristen Laurence said...

Emily, two and a half is a great age to have an empty manger set out in a main area of the house. When a good deed is done for another, your son can place a piece of straw in the bed. The idea here is to make Jesus' bed as comfortable and full as possible befor His birth. Kids love it!

Dee, Madeleine is getting a bicycle this year, and I'm not sure about Gianna yet. Each year I try to get them something meaningful or significant (that they'll use a lot). One year we gave Gianna a doll stroller(age 1), the next year an easel(age 2), the next year a bicycle(age 3). She was very pleased with each gift and used (uses) them frequently. I try to avoid a substantial purchase like a bicycle in the summer (even if I really want to buy it), but wait until Christmas. I hope that helps.

Gabrielle said...

Kristen, I'm about three weeks late reading this, but am printing it out right now and will put it on the fridge. I'll run to re-read it and get re-inspired every time I'm on the verge of allowing myself to be overwhelmed this Advent. Thank you for helping us experience a calming breeze instead of a whirlwind.