Saturday, December 15, 2012

{ Finding Balance }

Every Christmas I struggle over how to keep my focus on Christ. It's so easy to get caught up in trying to do every Christmasy craft that catches my eye on Pinterest, baking and candymaking, parties and carols and so much bustle and clamor that I often arrive on December 25 feeling breathless...and ashamed. Realizing I have literally not spent any time thinking about the Incarnation or preparing my heart for Christmas. And then I get frustrated: Christmas is about Christ, and here I've been worrying about whether or not I made enough fudge, if it will be funky by that party, when are we going to put up lights, when to brave the mall to get that gift, etc.

As a married couple, Mike and I have tried to place a high priority on Jesus' incarnation instead of the materialism that seems to just explode this time of year. Now with a little one, we are continuing to be intentional about centering the Christmas season around Jesus. {Not having a TV and not going to the mall in December make it easy to miss a lot of the commercialism, but boy do I ever do an excellent job of coveting and comparing via the internet!} Mike and I also have a handful of nice Christmas traditions we've established, and as our family grows and changes, we want to continue incorporating them into the holiday season--as long as they remain meaningful and fun. We've been talking about our expectations and how activities and traditions will be different with a five-and-a-half month old baby in tow. Add to that the fact that Mike is very busy at work, so time and energy are precious commodities. Suffice it to say, turning my heart toward Jesus instead of "stuff" and molding our plans to fit around Lainie's needs has proven to be an exercise...but a rewarding one!

In spite of Thanksgiving being a week early, Advent still snuck up on me, and I found myself putting together our muffin tin Advent calendar on November 30th. In years past I've written a different little activity for us to do each day, ranging from "Buy festive lattes on the way to church" to "Put change in a Salvation Army bucket" to "Find mistletoe...xoxo." This year, I knew it would be stressful to have a daily "assignment." Instead, I wrote prompts for each day to help us remember the gifts Jesus has given us, like
A gift you can see
A gift you can taste
A gift that's alive
A gift that you didn't expect

It only takes a minute or two to read the day's prompt and share with each other specific gifts we're thankful for. I also sprinkled an activity in every few days, like having candy cane cocoa and burning a Christmas CD...things that are easy and we to want to do anyway.

Speaking of Christmas CDs, every year that we've been married, Mike and I have spent an evening perusing carols online {iTunes? Zune? I don't know} and taking turns picking 12 songs to burn onto a CD. This year's album is by far the most lackluster. I've listened to it a couple times, and it's like we didn't even try--it is boring, my friends. Boring. Probably because we were both hallucinatingly tired and juggling a wiggly baby between us. Better luck in 2013?

And speaking of Advent...I tend to be a legalistic nitwit about it: We have to do the readings daily, and if we miss a day, we must catch up. The reality for us this year is that many weekdays, we have very little time together. Mike leaves for work before I get up in the morning; he's super busy and sometimes has to work from home in the evenings. We are still trying to convince Lainie that her bedtime is before 10:30pm; so we frequently spend a couple hours each evening in that continual exercise of endurance, patience, and about-to-fall-off-the-cliff-of-insanity known as "putting the baby to bed." So we read our Advent devotional, Ann Voskamp's Jesse Tree Journey, together when we can, and I keep up with it during my quiet time. Just cuz we can't do it daily as a family doesn't mean we can't do it at all...or that I can't do it on my own.

A couple weeks ago we went to Wights, a local nursery/garden store that goes whole hog for Christmas, to buy The Ornament of 2012--another tradition. I wore Lainie in the Baby Bjorn, facing out, and I think she stuck her arms straight out like a happy octopus the entire time, trying to touch everything.

:: we both look frightened...charming. ::

And can I just say that after having a 12 pound baby in a Bjorn, I am sooooooo glad I spent the money to buy an Ergo--my shoulders were killing me after a few minutes, but I can wear her in the Ergo for hours without pain. Seriously, if you're gonna wear your baby, an ergonomically correct carrier is worth the money!!

And that's how we're trying to find balance this Christmas season. Trying to choose things that turn our hearts toward Jesus, bring us together as a family, and resist the pressure to make this just another commercialized spending extravaganza. Jesus gives us Himself. He is all we need.


  1. Bless you for writing this. You know we stand with you against materialism, and work hard to keep Christ in CHRISTmas. Jesus' Birthday brunch complete with candle in the coffee cake is planned before anything else Christmas morning.
    Have you checked out Gungor? They are our new favorite "sound" in Christian music, "Beautiful Things" is my fav. Anyhow, they have a great Christmas CD too! Merry CHRISTmas, sweet friend!

    1. Oooooh, thanks for the tip! I'm always on the lookout for new Christmas music--maybe Gungor is on Spotify! I'm gonna check :-) Merry Christmas to you and your family too!

  2. I love your focus here! And your advent prompts are a great idea - looking for a gift in each day makes gratitude a treasure hunt :)

    1. Have you read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts? That's kinda where I found my inspiration :-)