Being present this advent


I stayed home from church today with a vomity baby. As I was giving her the first of several baths, and she played quite happily in the warm water, I wondered to myself when it is that we seem to outgrow our ability to live in the moment? It seems like it's something that most adults struggle with, but young children don't struggle with it at all. My baby felt crummy, she'd just vomited in her bed and her hair, but she was happy in that moment in the bath.


I've been conscious of this for a long time -- I started working with mindfulness more than four years ago now -- but I wonder if I've gotten any better. My mind wanders -- sometimes in a "good" way, a way that I approve of, that doesn't distract me from the moment (but still wandering), and sometimes in such an "aggressive" way that I am completely removed from the present. I just wonder. When does this shift occur?


Anyway, I'm working this advent on being more fully present (because I can always improve -- the exercise never seems to get dull). Today we began a little bit of decorating. In a beautiful family moment, the strains of the song "Peace on Earth (Silent Night)" (it was that version, but I love the original, too) came on at the very moment my husband lifted the lid on the box with our nativity stable in it. Elisabeth and James were crowded around, and it already seemed like the perfect moment, and then James said, so excitedly, "The thankstivity!" That has to be one of my favorite advent moments, ever.

And I have a PDF to share with you of what we're doing this year with our advent calendar! You can find it here. This will hopefully help to see how it can be broken down into something simple, rather than getting overwhelmed by all the different options of things to do and give (you can see my previous extensive list here). I'm sure you may have questions for me when you look it over, and please ask in the comments! I'll respond there, too, so that everyone can see the answers. (Quickly, on day 20 it says "make fanky", and I'm sure you'll wonder what "fanky" is. It's a fried cookie from my mother-in-law's Czech heritage, almost exactly like Polish chrusciki.)

I hope that seeing the way I plan our activities is helpful to you, and gives you some ideas about where to start when planning your own family's seasonal observance. Remember to keep it simple -- in the end, you and your children will be much happier that way. Have fun!