Advent from the Land of Survival

As the Christmas trees are lit, the garland is hung, and the Christmas carols sung, our family is joyfully living Advent, but often with the feeling that we are hanging onto sanity by one frail strand of Christmas lights.  With three young children and a sweet 5-month-old, my world lately feels like that of Chevy Chase from Christmas Vacation as he frantically attempts to light his home, covered with Christmas lights.  He is one man facing the daunting task of checking thousands of lights.  His work has to be efficient yet meticulous.  He knows the outcome will be beautiful, yet the task at hand is overwhelming.

I am one mama (with the help of my dear, dear husband when he’s not providing for our family!) facing the job of rearing four souls.  My work has to be efficient yet meticulous.  I know the outcome will be breathtaking, yet I am often overwhelmed.  Will I ever find the problem?  Will I ever get to all of the chores?  Will my children be properly bathed and clothed and diapered and loved?  Will there still be room in all of our hearts for the Christ child?

Such is our Advent season this year.  Survival.  The outcome will be beautiful; the souls will be breathtaking; our home will be warm; we will have Christ at the center if we let Him dwell there.  If we let Him dwell there.

I was moved by the thought Mary Alice shared in a comment from a recent post about bringing the joy back to her Christmas shopping.  She proposed the idea of strolling the streets with hot chocolate in hand, taking time to buy thoughtful gifts for her children from local vendors.  Such beautiful, inspiring thoughts.  How I would love to tag along on such a venture.

And then life sank in a little and I realized that such thoughts are not my reality this year.  Maybe in future years, but not this one.

This year I must revel in the expediency of internet shopping.  I must delight in the beauty of e-coupons and promo codes and prospects of free shipping.  I must check off my list in a far less beautiful fashion, but one that allows me time in other areas that need a lot more tending.  I must nurse my baby to sleep, feeling the warmth of our togetherness and the hope of my future independence.  Because I know these survival times are fleeting.  That there is burgeoning beauty within.  That my empty cup is His overwhelming opportunity.

That Christ is here even when we’re just surviving.

Happy Advent to you and yours.  In whatever fashion you’re preparing, may we all make room for Jesus.

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  • Kat

    We’re right there with you, B-Mama, even though our baby is now 10 months and we only have 2 older children 🙂 Amen to all of your sentiments, they’re so life-giving and also recognize that “this, too, shall pass” (a favorite saying of my mother!).

  • Kathleen

    A few days ago I wandered around Michaels with my 4, 2 and 2 month old kids, trying to figure out what homemade Christmas gifts, melting chocolate and stamped cards we could do. I think it was somewhere between my 2nd trip to the bathroom to clean a poop explosion and the fifth clean up of items knocked off a shelf that I finally came to my senses. Why did I think this was a good year to attempt homemade pepper jelly with hand-stamped jar labels. We might be doing Pillsbury cookie dough and chinese food for Christmas eve dinner this year to keep our sanity and Christ at the center.

  • Cksrunge

    typing with 1 hand bc holding precious baby in other arm but wanted to say o love this post. finding beauty & peace in chaos is my hope this Advent season. pray for us, St. Andrew!

  • Erin

    B- I love this realistic view of your Advent! I often think about your descriptions of “survival mode” when I choose to not separate the laundry or leave the dirty dishes in the sink for the sake of picking up the crying baby or helping the 2-yo with some daunting task. Your boys (and sweet girl) will remember your presence during the weeks leading up to Advent far longer than they will remember the decorations or food!

  • Anonymous

    What a beautiful post! Last year we celebrated Christmas with a 2 month old baby (and an almost 2 year old, almost 4 year old, and almost 6 year old)…and the atmosphere was quite similar to what you describe here. You are so right to gain perspective about where you are right now, to accept it, and then to embrace it! Tis the season of life!

  • Texas Mommy

    Kuddos to you for keeping it real, B-Mama! Wishing you a blessed and peace-filled Advent. Hope you find lots of free shipping 🙂

  • Rcshirley

    Hang in there, B-Mama! You’re right … it won’t always be like this.nnAnd I have to tell you … I OFTEN feel like I’m barely making it and I only have 2 little ones, neither of which are nursing infants. In fact … as I breathlessly tried to hang a few random decorations and play a little Christmas music the other day, I realized that I had barely even thought about the true reason for this holiday. I was making a little advent paper chain to hang on our mantel, with a different “Christmas” activity to do each day written inside each piece of the chain. Bake cookies, take pumpkin bread to the neighbors, take a drive to look at Christmas lights, watch the Polar Express … I had just about finished, when I decided to look back at all I had written. Not one activity had to do with sharing Christ and his birth with my children. I was so ashamed and quickly went about changing several of them. nnSo … just wanted you to know that you are not alone this season. I will be internet shopping right with you. And who says finding great deals online while sipping a hot cup of tea after everyone has gone to bed can’t be heavenly in it’s own right. 🙂

  • Here’s where I think we go awry: we take a big view of Advent instead of working Advent into the reality of our days. It’s not that our vision of how wonderful/beautiful it will be is wrong or bad, but that what we need to do is find Advent in the nuclear diaper moments.nnThe truth is, even if we do it all right, and parent perfectly, and have the most glorious Advent and Christmas ever, there’s no guarantee that our children will grow up with beautiful souls. nnThe goal of Christmas is not to be cross-free. Hopefully in Advent we re-form our hearts (and to the extent possible, our children’s hearts) so that they form a crib that’s able to accept Christ. But what with the Alpha and Omega thing, cross and crib are made of the same wood. (Caryl Houselander’s Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross is *phenomenal* reading on this.) So in a sense, Advent starts with our crosses, no? nn

  • B-mama

    Well put, Julia! Our priest had a similar message to share on the first Sunday of Advent. We are carrying our crosses to the feet of Jesus in the manger. Alleluia!