Posted by: Ingrid | January 20, 2012

Advent and Christmas in retrospect

I feel a little ridiculous recapping Advent and Christmas almost a month late.  But New Year’s hit, then we all got sick for about two weeks, and then my mother-in-law came to visit.  Now we are two-thirds of the way through the month and I am very much behind in lots of things.  I am pleased to announce, though, that the Christmas tree did come down very close on the heels of Epiphany, at which point I had begun forgetting to water it, so it was sort of on it’s last legs.  Did you know that pine needles can kill your vacuum cleaner?  So the tree is down but Owl City’s Peppermint Winter is still playing on my ipod.  Probably because their sound reminds me of my brother’s music and I find the “forty-five new pairs of socks” line endearing.  Anyhow.

As I blogged earlier, what I really was hoping for during this past Advent was the ability to embrace the season where I’m at in life, as a mom, to be spontaneous and to embrace the fun of having a two-year old during the season rather than wishing my life were something out of a pristine Christmas card where everything is neatly decorated and in it’s place.  Overall, I think it was a success.

I found one Advent calendar with chocolates inside at Aldi and was a little sad that I had to hand over the chocolates to Isaac.  Especially since these were some beautiful filled chocolates.

It was a little confusing to Isaac, who picked up the fact that we were doing this because of Jesus’ birthday.  So every day he would look up at the top of the fridge at the calendar and ask: “Want down, Jesus?”

This was not the only point of confusion.  Somehow, snowmen, Jesus, and Santa were all really confusing concepts to Isaac and became his Christmas trinity.  He kept identifying the Santa decorations on our tree as Jesus.  At one point, when exiting the mall, he passed a man dressed up as Santa and called over his shoulder: “Bye, Jesus!”  Priceless.

I had a great time dressing Jonathan in the same Christmas clothes over and over.  Someday he will be embarrassed,  but right now it’s so fun!

One of my fond hopes involved potentially being able to decorate cookies with Isaac this year.  Fortunately I was not so into the idea that I made everything from scratch.  I made the cookies from a mix, popped open the frosting, and showed him what decorating looked like.  I then gave him the necessary tools to decorate his own cookies.  He ended up eating all the frosting and licking the remainder off his cookie (No, I did not give that one away!) and eating every candy and sprinkle that I set on his plate.  I ended up decorating everything else.  Oh well, maybe next year!

I think that we lit the Advent candles a handful of times, which is better than we have ever done before.  Isaac particularly loved blowing them out, usually right after they had been lit…  Despite the lack of candle light, Clint and I managed to read a book for Advent, which is the first time we have ever made it through the whole month of readings.  That really meant a lot to me.

The tree, from about 3 feet down, was continually rearranged during the month of December.  There were a lot of “Oops!  How did that ornament fall off the tree, Mom?” moments, but overall, I thought Isaac did well.  And he never figured out the fact that candy canes could be opened and eaten.  I love my son.

We attended the third annual Cheesy Turtleneck Christmas Party at church, and for the first time, managed to not get the entire family in a picture. 😦  But I did find a turtleneck for Jonathan, so that was something of a triumph, though you can’t tell from the look on his face.

We were given the sweetest pair of “Baby’s First Christmas” boots, which makes me feel like we should have several more children so that they will get more use.

I got to do an impromptu baking session when we hosted the Junior team room party at our house at the last minute.  My excuse to make fudge for the Christmas season.

We tried cookie decorating part two with friends, right before Christmas, but Isaac still had not gained the appropriate maturity to not eat the cookies and sprinkles.

We had fun stringing all of the cards and pictures of friends and family across our living room.  For once we could actually see and appreciate all the work people put into their yearly Christmas cards!

Here is Isaac holding the best Christmas present ever on Christmas Eve.  I love how it looks like he is concocting all sorts of devious schemes in that little head of his.  I don’t know what is going through Jonathan’s mind but “incompetent mother” might be somewhere on the list.

I found a train table, some track, and a few trains on Craig’s List, and had to figure out how to assemble the crazy thing on Christmas Eve.  I was pretty proud of myself!  Jonathan stayed up late, helping with his excessive cuteness.

On Christmas morning it was with a little sadness that I got Isaac out of bed.  I realized that this was the first and only Christmas that Isaac would wake up on Christmas morning with no expectations.  From here on out he will always expect something under the tree but for those few moments between waking and seeing the tree he was blissfully ignorant of the nasty consumeristic turn that Christmas can take.  That Christmas innocence didn’t last long.  He soon learned that all the tiny packages held trains and then he went on to try to open every else’s gifts as well.  That led to throwing a tantrum, which landed him in time out about two-thirds of the way through the festivities.

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year as I tried to embrace the fact that life is messy and chaotic but I found that it was really good over all.  I was more relaxed.  I could look for and appreciate the little things.  I could laugh more at the mess and was more present during the beautiful moments.  In an Advent that wasn’t ideal it made me think more about how the original Advent couldn’t have been that ideal as well.  I doubt “have a baby in a stable” or “induce labor with long donkey ride to Bethlehem” were on Mary’s bucket list.  I can say, honestly, that I loved the season, mess and all, and was glad for the moments I took to think and reflect.  Plus there’s nothing like holding an almost newborn to make you think about the strangeness of God choosing to redeem humanity through a baby.  A baby who can’t move and needs to be changed and who smiles before spitting up the contents of his overly full stomach.  I have to admit, there were times that holding and looking at Jonathan was all I needed for Advent reflection.  I would sum up the season with two words: present and thankful!

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