In years past, as Advent would approach (like the day before Advent) I would get on the internet and see what all the mom’s out there where doing to celebrate the Advent season. What I found usually stressed me out. In hindsight I would have been better off not to even look up ideas about Advent. All it did was make me want to hit my head against a wall. My life of raising kids and homeschooling was hard enough (and I wasn’t even on the GAPS diet then) without trying to figure out ways to get myself and my kids on the path to holiness before Christmas day arrived. In all honesty, life was HARD enough just trying to make it through the day with a bunch of little kids. Throw in the Advent obligations and I was toast. But, I would try out the various ideas; Jessie Tree ornaments, Advent chains, cookies made into some holy image, Advent wreath with candles, etc. I really don’t think I helped my kids get closer to Jesus. I think they were too young to appreciate or even remember my efforts. If a young mom were to ask me my opinion, I would tell her to relax. Don’t add more chores to your list. Put your effort into just having some alone time with Jesus. That’s it. Forget the rest. If the mom can find a few minutes of peace to connect with Jesus, that’s all that you and your little kids really need.
Now, fast forward to today. My kids are older and even though I have 11 children now (between the ages of 1 years and 16 years), my life is not near as hard as it was when I had five kids who were 9 years old and younger. I have way more energy and I feel way more sane. So you know what? I am doing some of those Advent devotions and activities. It feels energy giving, not energy draining to participate in these activities. This year we made our own advent wreath with fresh greenery and holly. Of course I must confess my good friend Becky gathered all the supplies and let us make the wreaths (with her instructing us on how to construct it) at her home. So we had no prep work and no clean up. (Thank you Becky!!). Tonight as we lit the first purple advent candle, my kids all oohed and awed over our amazing advent wreath. Van read Jotham’s Journey as our kids listened attentively. We read Jotham’s Journey a few years ago, but the kids loved it and want to read it again. The younger kids don’t remember much of the story, so it’s like reading it for the first time. And please let me note here that the three youngest kids, Titus and the twins, where snuggled in bed, sound asleep. So it was a nearly stress free activity, even with the lighting of the Advent candles. In years past, just lighting the candle with the help of many little children turned into a chaotic ordeal. And you know what? We aren’t done yet. This Friday we are gathering with our St. Anthony’s homeschooling group and we are going to make Jessie Tree ornaments. And again, my friend Becky has come to the rescue. She has completely planned our ornaments and gathered the needed supplies. In addition, my older kids are making advent chains and advent calendar surprises for the younger kids. None of these activities involve my organization skills, energy, or creativity. All of these activities are unfolding effortlessly, with the help of my older children.
The moral of my story is that if the thought of Advent activities makes you want to pull out your hair out, then the timing is not right. Wait until your kids get older. For now, focus on finding a small chunk of time to connect each day with Jesus. Allow Him to prepare your heart, mind, and soul for the celebration of His coming.