15 November

{Many of you are visiting looking for my huge advent lists. I'm happy to share my lists with you, they are a gift! But know, also, that no amount of planning for little gifts and crafts and activities will really carry you through these weeks of preparation -- as advent truly is -- the way that a peaceful and joyful heart will. So if filling an advent calendar doesn't add to your peace and joy, my loving and "wise" (33-year-old wise, remember?!) advice to you is to let it go. Blessings to each one of you as we await this most joyful of seasons! Here are the links: Celebrating Advent :: Part 1 ~ Celebrating Advent :: Part 2 ~ Last year's PDF}

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{Photos in this post are all from last year}

With advent officially beginning in just a few weeks, and Christmas only four weeks behind that, my mind is turning to the ways in which our family marks this beautiful season. 

One of the things my friend and I talked about on Saturday, when I came away thinking how great this time in my life is, is the fact that neither of us feel like we are "winging it" when it comes to Christmas this year. 

canes (last year : this will make more sense if you read the blog post)

I think most of us come into parenthood with so many hopes and ideas about how we want our families to function ... everything from how we care for our newborns, to the most important things we want our children to come away with from their childhoods (I remember someone once saying she had the goal of her children knowing how to swim and how to use public transportation before they were grown -- two things she really didn't want to skip in the flurry of childhood), to the ways we will celebrate holidays, and how that will be both the same and different from how we have celebrated them in the past (in our own childhoods, in our pre-parenting adult lives, too). 

snow (from last year)

I had some definite ideas about advent and Christmas as a young(er) mother, and some new must-do rituals have worked their way in, too. But even with all the planning that I do, and try to do, I still have felt, a lot, that I was doing things by the seat of my pants during December. "Oh! Yes! I need to make sure we have the St. Nicholas gifts!" or "Where on earth am I going to find (x ingredient, supply, etc.) on short notice?"

This year just feels so different to me. I haven't done any shopping yet. I don't really even know how much I'm going to be able to do, actually. (Some. And it's not like we have done extravagant gift-giving, anyway. But some corners will be cut, too.) But what feels different is my own level of mental preparation. I know exactly what to expect with each of the small rituals our family observes over the coming weeks. I have our advent candles. I have our St. Nicholas coins. I know what I'm going to do about a King Cake (almost 2 months from now!). I'm not wondering what we're going to try or make or do differently. It feels established, a routine, something that finally, finally carries us all. Oh, how good that is!

My inner preparation feels different, too, as I've spent the last 15 months deep in the bible (I'm currently a student in a 4-year biblical school). I think that this is helping me keep some perspective on what the miracle of Christmas actually is, at least for me as a Christian.

canes (last year)

A few new things will be added this year. A few things we've done before may not happen. But the outline, the scaffold, of how our family will live and move and celebrate through these upcoming weeks, that is there. Now all I can do is hope for snow. 

lights (last year)