Being the “Martha” that I am, I got completely caught up in the holiday craziness and let it pass by me with tons of stress and little true appreciation for the joy of the season. This was despite the fact that I bought relatively few presents for my kids and tried not to overbook myself with activities. In the last few days, I’ve been trying to relax and enjoy the remaining tidbits before we celebrate Christ’s baptism tomorrow and the official Christmastide is well and truly over.
I have vowed, with God’s help, to do better next year, and thought I’d note the things that I can do differently. I’m sure this list won’t be anywhere near complete, so please feel free to chime in any thoughts you might have from your own personal experience.
- Start my shopping earlier and make a concrete, written list of what I’m buying for everyone. I ended up doing way to much late night shopping the last week before Christmas. With all the kids’ activities the last week of school, it would be exceedingly helpful to have everything taken care of before that week!
- Have a budget, and stick to it. We blew the budget with the first item we bought, but just kept going anyways. Knowing that we were spending way more than we should gave me a general sense of unease that lasted the whole season and still lingers as I examine finances in January.
- Commit to a spiritual practice for the duration of Advent. I had made a commitment in September with the intention to reevaluate at Advent. I never did reevaluate and instead just stopped doing most of it. My priest recommended giving something up for Advent, and I think that’s a nice idea as well. (I know this idea might seem crazy to many, but he explained it well. See his homily at http://bit.ly/fjyudA). At a minimum, I wish I had kept up with an Advent devotional.
- The past several years, my kids and I have enjoyed reading Usborne Books’ Advent Nativity Book every night during Advent (or at least starting Dec. 1). This book has 25 cut outs that together make a manger scene. The kids would get very excited about reading it every night and getting to add one more piece to the scene. Every night, it reminded us of “the reason for the season” and helped keep us balanced. I didn’t have a good place to put it this year, so we never did it. I really missed that and plan to reinstate it’s use next year. If you can come up with a similar practice, I highly recommend it.
- Play more Christmas music! Music is powerful, especially religious Christmas music.
“You belong to God, children, …for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. This is an absolute Biblical truth, but I was reminded this Advent that we must choose the one who is in us over the one who is in the world. Today, I choose Him, and pray for the grace to choose Him every moment of every day in 2011 and beyond.