Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finding beauty in the midst of chaos

Hey everyone! I'm back. I took an unannounced, unplanned, holiday hiatus from blogging. This week has been a bit on the . . . crazy side. Since we're really just gearing up for the holidays, I suppose it's a taste of things to come. I'm really hoping to put the brakes on over the next few days, however, so that we can actually enjoy Advent and the Christmas season.
As I've said before, I have a thing for the vintage, midcentury-style Christmas. To me, this means a fun, memorable celebration with family and friends, with a focus on Jesus - the reason for the season. Plenty of photo-worthy moments, lovely Christmas cards, and an overall warm, cozy glow. It also means that the meaning is found in the memories made, rather than the gifts received or the amount of money spent. You can't have it all or do it all. It's just not possible.
Or maybe it is. If you pick and choose what's important to you and make a plan, you can focus on crafting a season of wonderful memories to cherish for a lifetime. You won't be left wishing that you'd watched your favorite Christmas movie as a family or reached out to the less fortunate in a meaningful way. But unless you talk over what's important beforehand, this can be difficult to pull off.
I wish I could say I came up with the idea of planning out the holidays myself, but I first read about this idea over at Simple Mom. I highly recommend checking out all her posts on preparing your holiday season! It can be overwhelming to think about the holidays as a whole, to say the least, but just like anything else, a little forethought and planning can go a long way. Planning doesn't have to ruin the spontaneity, either - if it seems like the perfect night to pop popcorn, drink cocoa, and listen to Christmas music, it probably is. Just go with it. (Planning may, however, ruin the "tradition" of frantically wrapping gifts while watching midnight Mass from the Vatican - or am I the only one who does that and wishes they were just enjoying the Mass?!)
I have to be honest and say that we don't really have a lot of holiday traditions. We've talked about starting some this year, now that we are a family of four. Up until now, we've mostly just spent time with our families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We have breakfast with my parents and dinner with Dan's family. This year, however, my brother and his new wife will be coming for Christmas, so things will be a little different. I'm not sure exactly how yet. We usually go to Mass on Christmas Eve, but this year that's past Emily and Erin's bedtime, so we will only go if there's a children's Mass earlier in the afternoon.
We also plan to start a tradition of having St. Nicholas pay a visit to our house on his feast day, Dec. 6th. I'm sure he can add another stop! Around the same time, we set up our tree and decorate it, and we make a trip upriver to a store that sells nothing but Christmas items.
We're also planning on commemorating the Advent season with some "Advent Acts of Kindness". While I'm not planning to blog specifically about our experiences, I will be sharing a different idea with all of you each day in December up until Christmas Day. My fellow #CathSorority bloggers came up with a ton of great ideas for ways to remember the less fortunate during this time of reflection and preparation, and I'm really excited to start sharing them with you the end of this week! I'd love to hear any ideas you have as well - comment below or email me (!
So while it might sound strange, I'm gearing up to slow down for the next few weeks, and getting ready to make a few great memories instead of a gazillion blurry ones. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
What are your Christmas traditions? Do you plan your holiday season, or just take things as they come?

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