I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm a planner, and I'm writing this column for myself. I'm going to print it off, stick it to my refrigerator, and remind myself of these words when Advent is upon us.
As our family grows, the Advent and Christmas seasons get a little more chaotic with each year. I thought I'd come up with some survival tips for those trying to keep the time holy:
Keep the Routine
It's not going to be a holy season if you're sleep-deprived or you've somehow abandoned your personal, couple, and family prayer time. Stick with the routine now more than ever! Keeping everyone rested will help the crew to stay healthy. When we're rested and healthy, we'll be better equipped to handle the inevitable snafus with a clear mind.
Decide on Commitments Together
Which dinners, cookie exchanges, open houses, fundraisers, etc. are important to your family? Can you and your husband limit yourselves to each picking 1 purely social commitment? Which ones will add more stress and chaos than blessings? Which events will add to your celebration of the season? Be firm in your resolve to not overcommit your family this season.
Add 1 (and only 1) New Tradition
Resist the temptation to implement 15 new traditions that you've found on Pinterest. Limit yourselves to adding 1 new tradition to the Advent season and 1 for the Christmas season. Before adding a new tradition, ask the same questions you did when you looked at your calendar: Which traditions will add more stress and chaos than blessings? Which traditions will enhance our celebrations?
Hopefully you're already having regular meetings with your husband about your finances. (We have our family meetings on Sunday nights.) If not, create a budget now. Agree upon on how much you will spend on the following:
- Gifts (include gift wrap & postage)
- Charitable giving
- Decorations (lighting, tree, home)
- Food & drink
- Party supplies
- Christmas cards (include postage, envelopes, stationery/printing)
Write down your limits and hold each other accountable to stick to them!
Debrief with Your Family
Spend a family meeting revisiting your Advent and Christmas seasons. Consider answering these questions independently before you meet so that you don't influence each other's responses.
- Routine: Were you able to maintain your routine? Did you find yourselves in survival mode?
- Commitments: Were you overextended, or were you able to enjoy the select events you chose?
- Traditions: Did your new traditions (if any) enhance your celebration of the season? What worked? What didn't?
- Finances: Was your budget realistic? Did you overspend? How did this affect your family?
- How can next year more closely reflect your family's values?
What Did I Forget?
Do you have any other suggestions to add? How do you keep Advent and Christmas holy seasons for your family?
Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher
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