I rarely feel the size of our family quite as keenly as I do when sickness is afoot. This past month has given me plenty of opportunity to do the math, and last week, it only got worse. We’re now mid-stream in an admittedly losing battle against influenza that has given me no room to think “we’re not really that big of a family.” Because if nothing else, solving the equation that pits our family’s population against two bathrooms when the flu is mixed in makes me acknowledge that we’re working with some real numbers here.
In our family, there’s something of a snowball effect of time that starts in September and rushes, pell nell, until the end of the year. I call it our “roll”— the four months of the year that hold seven birthdays, two major holiday seasons, two minor holidays, and all of the preparation and expectations that go along with those events.
Advent begins Sunday. This Sunday. Which means that the ball is rolling (rapidly) towards Christmas.
Are you ready?
I need the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’m not talking about the tinsel and the trees and the endless parade of gift exchanges. I’m talking about Advent: the season in which we believers step back and hold our breath, waiting for the fulfillment of a promise spoken painfully close to the words, “In the beginning.”
The season in which we wait upon Jesus.
Dear friends and family,
I know, I know. Tradition has been broken. You have certain expectations from our crew this time of year, and this, decidedly, is not it.
Thanks for cutting us a break. It’s kind of been, well … a year.
Nepali Hindus just finished celebrating Tihar, also known as the Festival of Lights, and on the last days of the weeklong celebration they decorate their houses with lights, candles and flowers to the abundance. There’s also lots of singing and dancing.
Some of you read the title to this post and thought, “Who DOESN’T celebrate Christmas?”
Chances are, if that was your reaction, you’re not an evangelical Christian. Or a homeschooler. Because if you walk around with either of those labels on your forehead, you knew exactly what I meant. Not only did you know, you could immediately picture someone who falls into the other camp–someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
I’ve heard a whole host of reasons why people shrug off Christmas. Historically speaking, Jesus was probably born in the spring. It’s a Catholic holiday. It has pagan roots. It’s not in the Bible. It’s too commercial.
And you know what? I agree totally.
Last year’s Advent season wasn’t exactly stellar. I mean, it was fine enough. Cookies were baked. The tree was trimmed. Merry was made.
And I had just about nothing to do with it.
Sure, I made the plans. I even nudged things into being by assembling our Advent schedule, putting together craft ideas, reminding Christopher to buy enough butter for the shortbread, and putting holds on our favorite Christmas movies.
But I was on bed rest. And really, there’s only so much jolly to be had while stretched flat on a couch. My memories of Christmas 2012 are all slightly sideways and from knee level. Incidentally, so are the photos.
This year, I was ready to go all out. I trolled pinterest in search of crafts to satisfy the teens and the tots alike. I checked local listings for fun freebies to round out our season. I plotted how to pile everyone in the van late one evening to ooh and ahh at light displays. I sent out invitations to our Open House party. All that was left was my favorite part: assembling a schedule of Scripture readings to explore this season as a family.
It was all coming together so beautifully. I may have even had a moment of insanity when I thought that for once, I was ahead of the game.
Cue the chaos.