Thursday, December 6, 2012

Margin for Advent-tually

Growing up, we had an advent calendar. It was a card board one, with little doors that you opened every day in order to see cool new pictures.

We got a fabric calendar about the time I was in middle school. There was a star that got pinned on the date, until it ended up over the stable where Jesus lay.

I loved that tradition, so the year BMV was born, we bought our own advent calendar. It is a felt number, with snowmen, pockets and a snowflake to mark the date. It is showing it's age. It needs some glue and some new string. But it is ours and we love it.

It's Meres' day!

I always fill the pockets with chocolate and my kids take turns moving the star. So far, our number of kids have always been factors of 24, which produces equal moves and equal chocolates. I guess we either have to stick with 4 kids, or have 2 in one fell swoop to not mess up the calendar. I think four kids sounds great.
I think this is a pretty precious picture=)

Our calendar is probably one of our favorite family traditions. The kids look as much forward to the calendar as they do to playing the Thankful game in November.

Advent means the arrival of a notable person, and is most commonly used about the birth of Jesus Christ. The advent season, aka Christmas time, is when we look forward (backward) to the arrival of Jesus Christ as a baby.

and this one is gross...spoils of war

Having grown up in a rather fundamental, evangelical denomination, advent was not a term that was used. There was no 4 Sunday tradition.

As a matter of fact, I had no idea until this year that there were actually traditional Scripture readings that went along with each day in the advent season.

But what really took me by surprise is the advent calendars on steroids. And, I'm not just talking about the Pinterest varieties.

I am talking about having an advent calendar with an advent activity to do each day. Never heard of it. Until I joined the blogging world. So sheltered.

Some may say that scheduling an activity for everyday is a bit OCD. Personally, I can understand the thought behind it-not wanting to miss out on your favorite traditions and what is important because you ran out of time in the other busyness.

I am a planner, but I am also more of a rhythm person. Go with the flow. Not be so scheduled that there is no room for spontaneity. That is the Hippie in me.

Which, by the way, is Mr. Hippie rubbing off on me. He is spontaneous from his baby blues to his size 13 feet. Although, my rhythm-ness is rubbing off on him too.

We have family traditions. Annual Christmas concerts, get togethers with both sides of the family, plus extended family. We decorate. We make cookies. We have an employee Christmas party. We go see lights. Some things are scheduled and on the calendar, some are waiting for a free day or evening.

I think either plan is a-okay. Whatever blows your hair back and all.

baking day
 I do think leaving room for spontaneity, and margin in your December schedule is not only helpful, it is healthy and wise. We need quiet. We need down time. We need room to be flexible.

And occasionally we need to be spontaneous.

One of our Barefoot Hippie traditions for years has been to go to the free holiday open house at our local presidential museum. There is caroling, decorated trees, beautiful quilts, free punch and cookies, and story-telling, plus you can see all the regular exhibits free. It is a fun activity. And this year we chose not to do it.

It was a very hard choice. A nap was needed. We were going to decorate our tree.

See, we had already said yes to an non-traditional activity. Something that hadn't been on our December radar at all.

And, often when you say yes to something, you could still say yes to everything else, but you should say no-to something.

We heard that Keith and Kristin Getty were going to be in town for a Christmas Concert. They are one of our family's favorite Christian artists, and we decided to go if we could still get tickets.

That was the best decision we made all weekend! We bought tickets for seats in the fourth row. We took everyone but Meres.

Their brand new Christmas concert tour is called Joy, An Irish Christmas. It was chock full of awesome Irish instrumental-isms, Irish jig-jigging, and singing. Kristin sang. There was an adult and children's choir. There was singing by the concert goers. There was clapping in time. It was amazing!

Set against the Leahy gold standard of top-notch concerts, this was right up there.

Joy was a feast for the eyes and a balm for my soul. I smiled and laughed and cried. It seems like in this period of mourning in my life, tears and laughter are often weaved together.

There was a song they wrote that was a mother's prayer for her children. There was the tear jerker line "may you still turn out despite my mistakes." That would be a Barefoot Hippie Girl translation. A reminder of God's grace, and how much I need it in parenting.

There was a song that is fast becoming the favorite of all of us Barefoot Hippies. It is not a Christmas song, but it has a great message even for this season. What are my priorities? If you have never heard it, take time to watch this clip. You will be glad you did.

A rich young man came to ask of Christ
"Good teacher, will you tell me
What must I do for eternal life?
I've kept your laws completely."
"Sell all you have, give to the poor,
Then heaven's treasure will be yours."
How hard for those who are rich on earth
To gain the wealth of heaven.

Now Jesus sat by the off'ring gate
As people brought their money:
The rich they filled the collection plate;
The widow gave a penny.
"Now she's outgiven all the rest - 
Her gift was all that she possessed."
Not what you give but what you keep
Is what the King is counting.

O teach me Lord to walk this road,
The road of simple living;
To be content with what I own
And generous in giving.
And when I cling to what I have
Please wrest it quickly from my grasp
I'd rather lose all the things of earth
To gain the things of heaven

And LC got to dance a reel with the Irish Jig girl in the lobby at the end. She was pleased as punch.

Do you have advent calendar? What's it like?

December is a busy, busy month. Have you left margin for the things that may be on God's advent calendar for you?