How to do Advent without losing your mind

I don't know exactly how one becomes the patron saint of something....but I assume the first step is becoming even just a regular saint, which I believe involves being a pure and virtuous person, and then being dead for a long time, and then winning some sort of vote about overall worthiness. SO. It's pretty safe to say it's not something that I have to worry about for myself anytime soon (ever). But, if somehow through a bogus election, or an elaborate case of mistaken identity/rewriting of history, I were to become a patron saint of something, I'm pretty sure I would be associated with the art of: 

Getting Oneself in Way Over One's Head 

It's a skill. A talent. A gift really. 

And in this particular area I am blessed to the max. I am a big dreamer, which, when matched with my highly optimistic beliefs, results in me thinking that most (all) of these big dreams are actually doable...usually even at the same time!

I have an uncanny knack of chasing after a dream of mine, only to realize halfway through that it may indeed be a worthwhile dream, but may not actually be a possible least not in the timeframe, budget, or particular fashion I had hoped. So I often find myself in a mighty fine mess of my own making, wondering how I'm going to: complete all those crochet scarves, follow through on the commitment to Paleo I made on a whim, fit that fabulous craigslist find into my trunk ....You get it. 

But. I'm learning. 

So with Advent approaching, my inner YES I CAN! wanted to do it all. Memories would be made. Traditions would be formed. Pins would be brought to life! We'd sing songs, read books, mix/cut/bake/frost cookies....deck every hall and jingle alllllll the way. But then I remembered....hall decking is a whole lot of work, and kids in the three and under set aren't always in a jingly mood. So I combined my signature style, with the compliment that I'm learning through the glamour of motherhood: Setting the Bar Low, and Cutting Oneself Some Slack

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I set up an advent calendar that delivered on all of my grandiose visions (a cute little chalkboard! an activity every day! 25 magical memories my children will treasure forever!) but I partnered that with a big dose of reality, by pre-seeding each tin with an activity that I knew I could deliver on with little to no stress. 

Each day, my oldest finds the correct number on the board, opens the tin, and excitedly asks me what that day's activity will be. If it's a good day, and my planning ahead actually worked, I read what's written on note (We're going to go get our Christmas tree! Today we'll bake brownies!) And if the day has already gotten a little hectic (at 7:45 am...) I make a quick amendment to something I know I can make happen (It's sing a song day! Let's color another page in your million page coloring book I got on clearance last Christmas!) The kids can't read. So they don't know when there's been a last minute substitution. And the other beauty...they pretty much love any idea if you sell it with enough enthusiasm. 

My kids don't know pinterests exists. They don't know "other moms" make gingerbread houses from scratch. They have no clue that the Home Depot Christmas trees aren't as "fancy" as the cut-your-own kind. They just love the novelty of the season, being together, and doing anything we deem "special". So some of my 25 activities are complete gimmes. Go to church, play at Grandma's house, invite friends for dinner...I even put bathtime in there (if you make a Santa bubble beard it counts as festive!) And the results of this half Big Magical Dream, half Everyday Stuff approach have been awesome. I'm loving this intentional, special time with my kids, but I still have enough flexibility to keep it from being one more loooooong list of must-do's before Christmas. 

So if you wanted to start a super special pretty perfect advent tradition this year, but you didn't quite get it together...or...if you did start a super special pretty perfect advent tradition, but it didn't pan out into the everyone holdign hands singing silent night around the antique family bible vision you had... Take a cue from this Patron Saint in Training and give yourself some grace. Set that bar a little lower, which is actually just code for set your pride and need for accomplishments aside, and embrace the really simple joys of being with your imperfect family, doing regular things, with great love. (And some sprinkles, because c'mon...Christmas.)


For more Christmas fun, check out the Sharing Christmas linkup on my blog Bowdenisms. Or say ho, ho, hi: @bowdenisms: instagram | twitter | facebook

P.s. Please know I'm just goofing around about the patron saint stuff. I have nothing but respect for the Catholic Church, and can say humbly, and honestly, that I'll never be worthy of Sainthood, but I'll happily learn from those God has blessed with gifts greater than my own.

Finding Rest

The Busy Trap