There’s a line at the beginning of the third chapter of the Christmas Box that says, “Sunday was not proclaimed the ‘day of rest’ by a mother with a family to ready for church, but such is the irony of piousness.” That could probably sum up my first Sunday in December. Well, it could probably sum up my every day!
All four girls (Gracie, Abigail, and their two friends who spent the night) woke up early today so they could play. And, somehow, in between getting them (and me) all ready for church and Sunday School, they managed to find time to go out in the backyard and climb on the dome.
Steve and I teach the Kindergarten and First Grade Sunday School class at our church every other month. December is our month. Have I mentioned that December sneaked up on me? Months that start on Saturdays or Sundays tend to do that to me. I didn’t even pick up the lesson book until Saturday, so I was pretty ill-prepared. Steve, who is my sounding board, and my organizer when we teach, was at work. Which left me alone with ten 5, 6, and 7 year olds. Kids that age can smell fear. Then can also smell unpreparedness. Thankfully, our church children’s director, Jenna, was there to help me. Unfortunately, she got to witness me at my most off-kilter. I’m pretty sure Steve and I won’t be asked to teach Sunday School again! Once Jenna got everything together for me, things went really well. We were talking about Advent and the journey to the manager (there’s one part in the lesson where we have to sing and walk to the manager singing “I’m marching to the manger, come with me” and pretend to be something different each week. Yesterday, we had to pretend to be camels. How convenient that Abigail had a story to tell about riding a camel!). I really do enjoy the spirituality and the liturgical parts of the Christmas season. Lighting the Advent candles is truly one of my favorite times of the year. Even when I’m frazzled and over-stressed, the simple acts of faith calm me and fill me with joy.
After church, Abigail had riding lessons. She was so excited to be back at the barn with her beloved Bubba. She is doing really well – at least I think she is – I have absolutely no real data to support that – she just looks cute on the horse and she is thoroughly enjoying herself, so I’m counting that as a success. She trotted for the first time today!
I was supposed to take pictures after riding lessons, but the family had to reschedule because one of their little boys was running a fever. So, I took the girls to Wal-Mart. What was I thinking? By the time we left, I’d spent more money and time than I’d planned inside those hallowed walls. One of my extra expenses I can’t blame on the girls. In the center of the main aisle set a stack of these:
My dad always loved pepper jelly – it was a staple on our Christmas Eve buffet. I always thought it was so cool that the colors were the same as Christmas colors. As a kid, I didn’t enjoy the spiciness, but now…..yum! These came home with me and it made me feel just the tiniest bit closer to my dad. My dad was sick during the holidays in 2009. We put him on hospice just before Christmas and he died on December 30th, so the holidays are somewhat bittersweet for me and having these special memories of him really helps.
Once the girls and I came home and we all had dinner, it was finally time to light our first Advent candle and read our first devotional. We’re using The Adverbs of Advent this year.for the girls’ devotional. I like it a lot – the devotionals are very short (which helps immensely with short attention spans) but they pack a lot of meaning into a few words. I’ve tried crafty advent devotionals before. I love them and we’ll probably incorporate some of the crafts into our devotional time occasionally. But, here’s what’s happened in the past. Gracie usually gets really frustrated because she does not really like the kinds of crafts in advent books, basically cutting and gluing. Once she gets frustrated, I get upset because I think we’re not getting out of it what we should. Then, after a day or two of this circle of frustration, I give up. I figure using the Adverbs book, I can do a short devotional with them each night and then if we have time to do a craft, great. If not, we’ve still read our story.
So, on to our first Advent devotion of 2012. You know it’s not going to go like a Martha Stewart Living episode right? Abigail asked to read the closing prayer. She’s doing well reading, but she is only in kindergarten. So, it took her a while to sound out the words and then we had to prompt her a lot. Then, she had to read it twenty-seven times. We were supposed to light the first candle of Advent last night. I haven’t pulled our advent wreath out of storage yet, so I had to make do with the only candle with a wick that we have in the house, which just so happens to be an orange beeswax Halloween candle that sits on a black spider plate. It’s the love behind the action that matters, right? We lit our candle. Gracie said a beautiful prayer. Abigail asked if she could sing a song. “I have the perfect song picked out, Mommy! It’s beautiful!” I told her, of course she could sing a song. She calmly set on the couch and started singly softly and, if not completely on key, then at least with great enthusiasm. “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells”. I managed to swallow the giggle that was threatening to escape. I remember hearing a story years ago about a storefront in Hong Kong whose Christmas display was a comical mixture of the sacred and the profane. I don’t think they had anything on us tonight.
I’m tired again tonight, up late working. This weekend has definitely been full of a lot of laughter and even more joy.