Guys. It’s only the beginning of December and I’ve already lost it a few times.
Not my purse. Or my keys…
But my sanity.
In fact, I’m pretty sure it was gone waaaay before Thanksgiving. And then Thanksgiving gave it a good shove down the garbage shoot.
The holidays are a completely different experience as parents, am I right? Riddled with stress, insanely high expectations, hyper children and breakable decorations…it’s pretty much a recipe for disaster. Five years in, and I’m just now learning that.
And man-oh-man, the responsibility we feel as Moms. I tell my husband, “it’s our Super Bowl.”
We’re the magic makers. We’re the ones who make it all happen. From Elf on a Shelf, to Christmas morning, to school assemblies and Christmas parties. From presents, to decorating, to cookie-making and budget-planning.
It’s all us.
And we love our families so stinking much that everything has to be just perfect. PERFECT, I TELL YOU!!!
Then we crack.
I’ve cracked so many times over the last five Christmases. (Ask my husband about the time he misplaced our kids’ biggest present on Christmas Eve. Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest hour.)
And this year, I stumbled upon the secret. Just by happenstance.
I’d like to claim it was my own genius idea, but sadly, much like everything else in my life…it was a product of my type A, perfectonistic, and slightly OCD personality (you know, we’ve all got our stuff).
A few years ago, we were gifted a Nativity magnet set from a dear family friend.
No clue where they found it but the moment we opened it, I knew my kids would love it.
I just had no idea how much it would mean to me…
My boys have so much fun with it, every single year. They love arranging it in the classic ways, in silly ways, adding animal magnets to the scene. You name it.
But in the end, it always winds up looking like this:
Much like how I feel. Jumbled. Unfocused. A little messy and out of sorts.
I usually do my “clean up rounds” every night after the boys go to bed. I take about fifteen minutes to go around the house, picking up any leftover toys and putting them out of sight. Call it what you want, but I’m a stay-at-home Mom, so my house is my office. And if I have any chance on God’s green earth of relaxing, there has to be some sense of order…mainly, no reminders of my children.
A few nights ago, when I was clearing out the kitchen and cleaning magnets up off of the floor…it happened. Something told me to sit down, right where I was. So I did.
I took a deep breath, and I slowed down. I carefully cleared away the clutter, leaving only a blank slate.
Just staring at the empty white space on the fridge made my heart feel lighter. (Told you. Type A.)
I put away all of the random magnets, then I started to put the Nativity scene together. Slowly. One piece at a time.
As a made the manger I thanked God for our home.
When I added the gifts and the animals I thanked God for the many gifts in our life. Amidst all the crazy. Amidst all the chaos…
Then I added the angel, and the stars. And I thanked God for the angels in my own life. Those people who have often rushed to my rescue, and the loved ones who are always there for me.
And lastly of course, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. As I slowly put them in place, I sighed so deeply. Letting out all of the frustration, all of the chaos, all of the negative energy and remembering the simplicity. The basics. The reason we do all of it. Reminding myself that nothing else really matters.
And I thanked God for his very presence. For his Grace. For his refuge.
All of a sudden, I felt peaceful. Clear-headed. Focused. And much less likely to explode.
My heart felt light. And full.
Funny how that works.
Ever since, I’ve made it a nightly thing. Heck, on the bad days it’s a “several times a day” thing. It’s my Advent meditation of sorts.
And as often as I need it, it’s there. Waiting for me.
Much like God is.
Do yourself a favor, and try it. Or find something similar that brings you peace. Just a few minutes every day; to re-focus and re-energize, remembering the very reason we celebrate this crazy Season.
And to keep you calm when your child opens all the presents you just wrapped and put under the tree…
(Note: I couldn’t find our exact size set, but I’ve linked to a similar one here.)