One thing my kids really love about this season is that we get to pull out some special things that are put away the rest of the year, namely The Polar Express. They watch it once every day, no kidding. It's like something they have to check off their list of things to do!
I bought some really cheap Advent Chocolate calendars from Trader Joe's. I haven't made a fancy Advent calendar yet for our family. Someday that will happen. But I've learned to be content with the $.99 version. It's better than nothing, and it certainly does the job of building anticipation.
I'm terrible at crafting. I can sew (usually, though recently I've wondered if I can even do that). But crafting, well, it just doesn't work for me for some reason. I've got to go get my supplies, which means fighting a line after searching endlessly for the one little thing I need. Then either it's the wrong thing, or I've spent so much time planning and purchasing that there's not time to complete the project before I lose enthusiasm over it. I've been trying to collect basic supplies throughout the year. I've been reading craft blogs, drooling over many projects, and bookmarking my favorites. Maybe there's light at the end of this tunnel? Because I really, really want to get good at this handmade thing. Anyhow, one of my goals is to craft some decorations this Christmas without having to go out and buy stuff. I feel a little accomplished that I've made a simple wreath out of a coat hanger and some fake berries I had (it's not gorgeous, but it's better than nothing). Today the kids and I made Christmas trees with pasta and cones made from paper bags and newspaper. I will paint the trees gold (when I can get to the store to buy more paint!). That may or may not happen this year, snicker, snicker. We did do those salt-dough ornaments. Wow, I feel accomplished this week!
Epiphany is like a breath of fresh air when I think about all that I could be stressed about between now and December 25th. We follow in the Church's tradition of making Epiphany (the twelfth day after Christmas) a very special gift-giving day. So if I don't have all my handmade sewn gifts ready by 12/25, I have 12 more days after that to get them done! Yay! I have been enjoying my time with my sewing machine very much these days. There has been a lot of ripping and picking out, but it's still very meditative and energizing to see projects take shape. One of my goals this year is to have several handmade gifts for my children. I will post pictures when all are completed!
All in all, I am enjoying this year's Advent season more than I ever have in years past. I feel like I've made some headway in figuring out what's necessary and what I can leave out. Time is like money--it's begging to be spent, and it's very easy to waste. I love spending my time on my family, seeing their chocolatey faces after they've sipped a mug of hot cocoa with me, singing their favorite songs with them, loving on them as much as I can. I could have the most beautifully decorated home or elaborately wrapped presents. But I don't, and I'm fine with that. I have a baby to cuddle with, and 4 more tender-hearted kids begging to sing Psalms with me, praying beautiful prayers over simple meals, growing into the kind of people that I wish I would have been at their age. God is so very good to us.