keeping my sanity this season …

… Having awoken from my Thanksgiving food coma, I am ready to tackle the season of Advent with pious gusto. The first order of business, get an Advent wreath. Last year I set the greenery on fire. I like to use real greenery around the house for wreaths and take holly boughs from my bushes, mostly because it’s free but also because it smells oh so good. When everything else is dead and bare the bright green of real garland strung around the house livens the dreary cold atmosphere of winter. I explained it to The Boy one year, Christ is coming to bring new life to the world and so we prepare our homes in anticipation of His birth with fragrant evergreens because the evergreens never die and represent that Christ will conquer death… and some other stuff I got from an Advent book.

Anyway, that part about evergreens never dying was a lie. They dry out and make perfect kindling and catch fire on your kitchen table leaving you to look helplessly on as all your dreams to be that mom go up in smoke.

Oh, and then there’s the whole Jesse Tree. And the Advent calendar. If only someone had warned me in RCIA that there were so many arts and crafts projects required to be a good Catholic mom. One year I tried to incorporate all three, in between decorating and shopping and sending out cards – which , by the way, it never fails for every 25 Christmas cards I send out there is only 1 in return. And no, ecards and texting me “Merry Xmas” most emphatically does not count. I digress. The year I tried all three looked something like this;

“Oh damn, I forget to put the little trinkets in the Advent Calendar this week. Wait, we need to make those Jesse Tree ornaments now, then we’ll sing the O Antiphons. Shoot, I forget to light the pink candle. Tom, did you sign your name to the Christmas cards; I need you to do that now! They should’ve been mailed 2 weeks ago. Now finish your prayers so I can wrap these presents. Where do you think you’re going young man?! We need to glitter and hot glue gun these ornaments. What do you mean you’re not having fun! This is what Christmas is about. Now go fix mommy a drink.”

This year I resign from all that. I got all my shopping done the weekend after Halloween. The Christmas cards are all signed and sealed. All that is left is the fun stuff – decorating the house and tree. I’ve intentionally made the pace slower so I can savor each moment of the season.

And as for those arts and craft projects; behold, my Jesse Tree!

So you see, you don’t have to try and do it all. And don’t let other moms guilt you into feeling that way either. Your kids won’t remember every artsy fartsy thing you did with them, but they will remember whether or not Christmas was a happy one with a happy well balanced family.

A very special ‘thank you’ to Sancte Pater for photoshopping the above image at my request.

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  • That tree is . . . f***in’ AWESOME!

    • Ya like that. I was going through my box of Christmas stuff and found a craft book someone gave me and I was like “Oh, shit. My old nemesis, the Jesse Tree!” It’s the one thing I fail at every year. So this year I showed that tree who’s boss. I was also on my 3rd glass of wine when I conceived this beauty.

      • Don’t forget Jesse Colin Young!

        • John Gordon

          Yeah, and what about Jesse Pinkman? (He needs all the prayers he can get.)

  • Robwardle

    Once again you have reinforced a most important rule. “Thou shalt not have thy mouth full while reading the Crescat lest thou spew on the keyboard”.

  • Ann

    Great post!!!!

    I am done trying to figure out the Jesse tree. I didn’t grow up with it, and I don’t get it and that is that. An Advent wreath it is.

  • Anonymous

    How they felt is truly what they remember. Heck, It’s what I Remember!

    Bless You for reinforcing that I need not compare my lack of Artsy-Fartsyness to those Mums that go all out decorating each and every corner of their homes, kids’ backpacks, shoes, knit sweaters, scarves, etc., etc., etc….

    Merry Christmas!!

  • Melanie Gillespie

    Funny! Christmas cards are almost always my greatest source of stress each year. I enjoy a little humor about it. And I thought about incorporating a Jesse tree into our Advent traditions this year but we’ll see…

  • Guest

    Just was having this convo w/another “not that mom” this morning. It really taps into my irrational fear that if I don’t do Jessie Trees or Advent wreaths or presents in shoes, or give gifts for the 12 days of Christmas, and I let them believe in Santa, that they’ll grow up, reject their faith, and become Atheists. I really love this season but the pressure put on moms to do all this stuff is kinda overwhelming for the converted and craft- challenged, like myself.

    • Aj4coco

      Or, you do all that and they just decide when they grow up that they don’t want to go to church and don’t believe in God; and then you just pray for them and realize that you gave them the gift and maybe one day they’ll remember that they put it on the shelf. (Never did a Jesse tree, BTW.)

  • samcarter

    Thank you for making me feel less guilty about ditching the Jesse Tree this year. I can never figure out which scriptures go with which ornament; every kit I find has different scriptures anyway. I’m doing a paper chain just so my littlest one can count down till Christmas. But since they don’t get their BIG presents till Epiphany anyway (heh heh), they’re more into January 6th. We wait to put up our tree until December 24th, so they are super excited for that.

  • robertgwirth

    Don’t forget that you deserve a Sanity Clause in your mom contract every Christmas.

  • well we have evergreens all year round , hence the ‘ever’ in green. If you plant one it will stay but ya if you chop it down it doesn’t take long for them to dry up

  • Karyn@daysofgraceandstumbling

    I didn’t grow up with an advent wreath or Jesse tree, but I love them. I do them now as an adult. You can check out the one on my blog Let someone else do the work. Consider it payback for giving me the idea to start drinking wine as soon as the turkey was in the oven–around 9:00 am. My first one. I should have started earlier…

  • I love that Jessie Spano made it to your Jesse Tree. Long live SBTB!