Advent is here! We spent the weekend recovering from Thanksgiving chaos and getting ready to be hurled into Advent. I rushed to get our Advent calendar and other traditions together to start on time.
We made it to church, and my boys randomly decided to wear their Easter best. They were ridiculously good during worship.
I shoved the boys outside to play so I could finish the Advent Calendar. I love this Advent Calendar. Each year, I change out a few activities and keep old favorites. The boys love to open the envelope each morning to see what we’ll do. Details on making it and our activities can be found at Advent Calendar 2012 and Advent Calendar 2011. This season is so stressful with my husband working nonstop and the normal holiday preparations that the Advent Calendar helps keep us focused on fitting on some of our fun and meaningful activities amid the busyness.
We did our first Advent Calendar activity making Christmas garland covered in things we are thankful for like dogs, organizing, singing, Christmas lights, and more!
We lit our family Advent wreath and read the accompanying devotion from We Light the Candles.
And, we read the first day of our Advent Storybook (I love this book btw! It’s such a simple, short easy tradition and it’s a beautiful storied journey to Christmas.)
Great, right? I happily shared pictures on Instagram and my personal Facebook page of my accomplishments.
Then I got a couple of messages asking where I find the time and telling me how amazing I am to have this all together. I cringed. True, scanning through my timeline, it looks like a perfectly orchestrated start to the season. But as usual, social media doesn’t show the whole picture.
In between the snapshots of boys all dressed up for church and my advent calendar finally hung and ready, real life happened. This real life was filled with boys who are still trying to recover from the sugar and chaos of Thanksgiving. They are cranky, tired, and oversensitive. They are fighting constantly. It was filled with dirty dishes, a stressed out mama trying hard not to have a panic attack with the onslaught of Advent, and marbles that I swear multiply every time we put them away so the next time they are dumped they wreak even more havoc. Every time I attempted to clean something up to make room for Christmas, something else got dumped. I bribed them with hot chocolate to go outside so I could just get the dang calendar finished. It was a messy, messy weekend. It took everything we all had to pull it together as much as we did, and in the end we lit our Advent calendars before eating our chinese take out dinner (that is full of gluten and therefore makes me sick every time we get it).
At the end of the night, as exhausted as I was, I love looking at that social media highlight reel of my day. It reminds me of the good. My younger son has a tendency to dwell on the negatives (no idea where he got that from… ahem… yea okay I do). At bedtime, we let him voice his frustrations and validate those feelings. We all need to be able to process the rough parts of our day. But, we always end by sharing gratitude for our favorite parts of the day. It doesn’t mean the bad ones didn’t happen, but it helps refocus all of us to thinking about them as bad parts and not as if the whole day was bad. That’s what the social media highlight reel helps me do at the end of the day.
I know I’ve talked about that highlight reel before, but as we go into a beautiful, stressful, and emotional season I think it needs repeating. When you see someone’s beautiful day on Facebook, remind yourself that real life was lived in between those snapshots. When you’re feeling like you’ll never be ready and Pinterest just keeps showing you all the other things you should be doing, walk away and know that no one is doing it all. Don’t let comparison steal your joy this season, and don’t let comparison dig you into a deeper hole than you already are in if joy already seems like a stretch. And maybe, snap a picture every so often for your own highlight reel to make sure to remind yourself of those moments at the end of the very long days.
Give yourself grace. Holidays can be beautiful and wonderful. They can also be heartbreakingly hard. Whatever yours is this season, or even just this day, it’s okay. You’re doing the best you can, and it’s better than you think. I’m sure of it.
Some past holiday posts: