I'm off my game. It's no secret that since the twins arrived, I've been way off my game. I can't just blame the twins. Life got bigger and fuller and busier and well, just more. My husband constantly tells me that "this too shall pass". I get a little sad because I don't want it all to pass too quickly. I don't want to wake up and realize that I missed it all hoping it would pass. It's the 5th of December and I haven't done much in the way of getting ready for Advent or Christmas. I'm going to sound like a total Grinch here, but getting all the decorations out feels like just one more thing I have to do. Of course, I don't want to Christmas to feel like a burden, but, right now, it does.
The other night, I started reading our Christmas books to Tess and Sammy. This ritual is one of my favorite activities of the season. Sammy flipped out because I asked him to read one of the board books to Tess. He just didn't want to and well, it disrupted our book time. In my mind, reading to my children is one of the things that makes for an idyllic childhood. On the very first night we started reading, my ideal scene turned into a classic meltdown. I was more than disappointed. I felt like Advent was already a loss. Yes, you can say it. I'm very all or nothing. I tried to let go of the awful frustration do something I struggle with. I hoped that our next reading time would be better. I tried not to dwell on the bad.
I've ranted a lot (on Facebook) about my absolute dislike of the 24/7 Christmas music radio stations beginning in early November. Somehow, the Christmas music seems less magical when it gets nearly two full months of constant air play and don't get me started about how depressing some Christmas music is. Yes, Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.
Life move pretty fast. If you don't stop and take a look around, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller said that. There's wisdom to be found in Ferris Bueller.I expect that Advent will move quickly, but slow down? Seems impossible.
I think about that quote a lot. So, maybe finding a way to experience deep joy even in the midst of chaos is the path to choose rather than constantly telling myself that this too shall pass.
We celebrate St. Nicholas day in my house and typically, I get each of the kids a new ornament and some chocolate coins. This year, I wanted to knit ornaments, but I didn't. It's not like I haven't been knitting because I have been knitting in every spare second of my days. I just didn't get to the ornaments. I still might try and knit them, but instead I ordered each child a Christmas/Advent/Winter themed book to add to our holiday collection. I discovered that it's really difficult to find the perfect holiday book for a 13 year-old. I ordered The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for Luke. I remember reading it when I was about his age and enjoying it. It wasn't my first choice. I think I will dig out our copy of Letters From Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien for him as well.
Before I started writing this post, I knew that it was going to be kind of a downer. It turns out that I'm not alone. Christmas can be overwhelming and yet, we're supposed to be joyfully and peacefully awaiting the baby in the manger. My good friend Elizabeth has been posting all kinds of good stuff about Advent and Christmas. She's been my inspiration for years and this year, I honed in on something about gift-giving in her recent post.
Gift-giving is a whole other source of stress. I love choosing just the right gift. I spend a lot of time searching for the best gift. I love buying supplies to make just the right gift. Any excuse to buy yarn or fabric, right? I used to go with the three gift rule for each child. Since the Wise Men brought Jesus three gifts, I thought three gifts per kid seemed reasonable. I think many people use this rule of thumb for selecting gifts for their children. I usually give something that they need, something to read, and something that they want. Five children multiplied by three equals brain overload. I can't do it anymore. Our house is small and the things that go here have to be meaningful. Elizabeth mentioned selecting one gift that really speaks to the child. What a burden lifted! Even with three gifts per child, Christmas started to feel like it's all about the gifts. Gifts are great and gifts are fun and gifts can be magical, but gifts aren't everything.
So, I'm changing some things this year and I hope that these small changes give me some peace and hopefully, the less-is-more approach will make for a more restful, peaceful, and happy Christmas. Hopefully.
I know that this rant isn't organized and well-crafted. I just let the words come and I didn't try to fix them much.
By the way, here are the books that ordered for the kids. Board books for the twins. Fancy Nancy for Tess.
Lighthouse Christmas for Sam. I am enchanted with lighthouses and I hope he will like it as much as I think I will.