When you are hoping it is different this year

The girls Halloween costumes were still in the laundry when the grocery store switched out the candy aisle to all things red and green. Is this really happening already? I haven’t even gotten my spider web wreath off the door. This christmas candy aisle transition was months ago. I still have the spider web wreath and the laundering of the costumes on my to-do list.

Can I tell you something? Even minor holidays have the potential to throw me into a tizzy. All parents have things that matter to them and things that don’t. What the girls wear on a daily basis, or even to church. What they eat. These are battles I mostly don’t fight. They are shoulds I have managed to mostly turn off. But on holidays? The should yard stick comes out. Valentines day and my kids aren’t wearing hearts: If you really cared, they would be red and white and adorable, get it together mommy. Halloween and we don’t get the perfect photo or a ton of candy: You could do better if you didn’t work. These pictures are forever, you are depriving your girls of a fleeting childhood experience! You didn’t hit enough houses! You could have done more.

If St. Patrick’s day without matching green tights sends me over the mommy-guilt edge, you can only imagine the beating  I manage to give myself with the gigantic tinsel covered Christmas yard stick. I got the girls too much, I didn’t get them enough. I should have baked, decorated, sung, watched holiday movies, partied more. I’ve done the more. It leaves me exhausted, crawling into the new year with nothing left.

The tricked out more more more Christmas extravaganza leaves me feeling empty, not full to the brim of awe and inspiration over the gift that Jesus Christ really is. It leaves me empty and sad, like the trees on the curb, used up and dry.

I want it to be different this year. I want the joy to the world and the peace on earth. Not the joy for just this too expensive moment and the can I please get a moment of peace around here. I’m scaling back, I’m dialing it down. I am making more room for the contemplation of a savior born, a God incarnate. I want less good stuff and more good news.

I want to leave the Christmas season full and bright, not dried up and used. For me, this means the advent candles. The Bible readings, the savoring of the old story through new eyes. The physical representation of the physical birth I believe in. The more accessible fisher price version my kids play with. A chance for my children to play with baby Jesus.

Yes. I am hoping it will be different this year, and I am preparing the room for it to be better.

My friend Tara Owens is a spiritual director. I met her through Story Sessions, and the wisdom she pours out is incredible. You haven’t heard a woman pray till you’ve heard Tara pray. She is offering an Advent ecourse. I think this would be a great way to focus on the good news of the season.

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