Sunday, December 1, 2013

Here's the Thing:

The Voices in My Head

Or, How Not to Ruin Your Holidays

                I had a house full of my beautiful family over the holiday.  My parents, my sister, for a brief evening my brother, and of course, my minis and the Officer all tucked nicely in the new mountain abode; plus the dogs: a 4-month-old Great Dane and a 5-year-old Yorkie were here to cavort with our 5-month-old Doberman.  It should be said that we are a raucous and space-filling crowd.  We are underfoot and piled atop one another.  We disagree more than we concede, we eat a great deal, and we love ferociously.  And thank God we have plans to return to one another in 3 short weeks.    
                Yet, as I sit by my fire, avoiding post-holiday cleaning necessitated by the requisite holiday decorating that the minis expect, I am closing out the season of thanks and rushing directly into the season of abject consumerism feeling a little empty. 


                To begin with, I have to admit that I have a bit of a Pinterest addiction.  And I spend entirely too much time on social media.  This is crucial because when I look at these sites, I am left feeling that my efforts are never enough.  Though I had pictured one and even planned it out, the nags in my head remind me that I didn’t have a perfectly set Thanksgiving table.  I spent so much time perusing cookbooks and grocery store aisles; yet, as my internal critics recall, my dishes were not foodie-worthy.  Besides, my Mom did a majority of the cooking, which my mental detractors are quick to point out was exactly what I didn’t want – I wanted to offer a holiday of respite.  Though because I have a very few recipes within my skill set, she had to spend her day prepping and overseeing, and basically, doing the meal.    One mustn’t forget [because my internal faultfinders won’t let me], that we never completed our thanks giving tree, nor did we  hike all the way down to the edge of the property, nor get Christmas up the day after Thanksgiving, nor fully score or finish the 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Day Games. 

                So that when I listen to all the voices in my head, telling me (complete with Pinterest and Facebook evidence) how I failed Thanksgiving, I feel I am already beaten for Advent.
                Yet, as fun as Pinterest and Facebook can be, all that fluff and frill and striving isn’t really the point.  Instead, I need to silence denigrators in my head.  And I should be thankful that though we didn’t sit down to silver chargers and crystal goblets, we laughed so hard tears rolled down our cheeks.  The cooking wasn’t perfectly timed, nor did we have an exquisitely rendered playlist in the background; but again, we laughed so hard that we were doubled over in the kitchen.  The house wasn’t decorated with a rustic fall theme, but it was company clean when everyone got here.  Of course, we couldn’t keep it that way – we live in the mountains, there is always dirt or mud or snow being tracked in – but we sat by fires and talked about our histories and dreams and again, we laughed.  When I consider what these holiday gatherings are made of, in the years to come, that is what I will recall: the laughter that fills each.  It’s what I pray my kids remember about their holidays; not that every moment was perfectly choreographed, or sound-tracked, or thematically decorated, but that we played games, cuddled around movies, snuggled and ate too many cookies, acted like silly tourists.  And that we laughed.  So much. 

                Because that’s who I am.  I’m not a decorator.  Nor am I an epicurean or event planner.  I am a be-er, a moment-er.  And that’s what I want my holidays to be about: shared moments and laughter.  Thus I will remind my mental critics.  I am not, nor will I ever be, the consummate hostess.  I am never perfectly quoiffed, my meals aren’t going to make Pinterest rounds, and my home’s interior will never grace a magazine.  And that’s more than okay.  Because I pick laughter and family over those any day.           

                Thus I have been researching ways to bring wonder and joy and meaning to my spirit.  I have found ideas for returning Christmas to its both humble and glorious beginnings; ways to make this a season of worship, and service, and upside-down kingdom, and love, and peace, and most importantly:
Immanuel: God with us.
And I will share the ones that I have found below.  Others I will share as I include them in our holiday-ing.  But what you won’t find, because I am purposing not to worry about, is: when I get the tree up | what it looks like when I do | how beautifully each package under it is wrapped | if I’m giving the right teacher/bus driver/mail carrier gifts | if my kids are getting the present this year | perfect in appearance holiday treats | so-healthy cave people would eat them holiday treats | homemade gifts that were developed by the legions under a certain decorating maven … and others I’m sure that will come to me later.

     For now, because I need to say it out loud, here’s how I’m taking back our advent this year:

1.        I am fasting Pinterest.  Somehow, my holidays got along just fine without it for years.  I bet I can do it again.

2.       I am fasting Facebook.  I am sorry in advance to relatives who may actually care about pictures of my kids’ holiday-ings; e-mail me & I’ll set up an e-mail blast if you’re really concerned about missing out.  But if I’m going to keep myself from coveting the boastful lives of others, then I should count myself out of the problem entirely.  By not boasting either.  The only exceptions to this will be: posting my articles so my faithful readers know they’re up & keeping up with a beautiful group of which I am proud to be a part, the Teal Toes.
     3.        I am participating in 4 online advent devotions listed below, for my heart is desperate to follow the star:  [this is a youth/young adult devotional, but it is accessible and time friendly] [this is for young children -- for the minis & me] [this one's for me.  Lots of very smart and caring people writing about their Jesus -- so beautiful!]

4.       I am reviewing the Magnificat weekly, and praying it imprints itself on my heart.

Thank you, dear one, for being here to drown out the voices in my head.  I pray that yours are vanquished already, so that the only One you hear is the God who created you, body, mind, and soul. 

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