What a horrible title, right? I know! And I so wish I could write, " Thriving in Advent and Christmas" or " Reflections of a holy Advent and Christmas". But truly the most accurate title would be, " I tried really hard to have an awesome Advent and Christmas and it started out on track and somewhere between eating too much sugar in the Christmas baking and ringing in the New Year, I turned into a melancholic whirlwind of emotional mess", but who would want to read that?!!!
My intentions were really on target and everything was organized for a great Advent. I started by adding this prayer: Saint Andrew Novena . If anything was truly good during Advent in my spiritual walk, it was this prayer, said 15 times a day from Nov. 30 to Christmas Day. Yes, 15 times every. single. day. I found it best to do 5 in the morning, 5 at mid-day, and 5 in the evening/ bedtime. What did it do, well it focused my "busy-ness" on the true meaning and also gave me a chance to pray for a special intention each time. I loved it and will definitely keep it in as part of my Advent prep in future years.
So many years I've wanted to have a Jesse Tree and actually keep up with it through the season. So we brought this lovely branch in our house and using Ann's new book , we dove in.
All started well, until about half way through Advent. We did finish the book, albeit, not before Christmas (but before New Years) and it was a charming way to bring to life the story of Jesus' family tree and all those Old Testament Bible stories. We only finished making about half the ornaments, but that's okay cause there's always next year, right? We also finished the third in the trilogy, Bartholomew's Passage, which we love to read every year. I'd recommend this series for ages 8-adult.
The Advent picture book basket came out. I love picture books and think it doesn't matter what your age, they are just lovely to read. I added a few new ones (self-proclaimed book junkie!): "Our Lady of Guadalupe" by Bernier-Grann, "Mary" by Demi, "Mary" byWildsmith, and "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" by Wojciechowski. We only made our way about half way through the basket this year, a little disappointing, but I did notice Kaitlyn digging through on her own, so I think it's good to leave them all out and available throughout the season.
We also celebrated our favorite saint feast days of December, which included Saint Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, OLOG, and The Immaculate Conception.
From Christmas Day to the Epiphany, we read The Twelve Days of Christmas and placed an ornament on our little tree. I think we really "Lived the Liturgy" this year!
Then they left, and I was exhausted and New Year's loomed with no plans. In the past we usually host a few family friends because we otherwise get invited no where. I know you hear those violins playing a dirge in the background, but it's a sad fact. "Invite someone!", my desperate husband encouraged while he tried to keep me from sinking deeper into the well. I wasn't up for it, so instead we went to mass on New Year's Eve and came home so I could cry. I know, sad display of patheticness. It's not really about having no where to go, it's the loneliness of being away from my roots, my family, my home. We've been back with family twice in 9 years for this holiday and both times it was pretty depressing too, with lots of events that did not live up to my prepared expectations of how things should go (perhaps you're seeing a red flag here!). Mike and I decided in future years, we will make our own plans to go out, buy a ticket somewhere, something to keep me distracted and looking forward to something celebratory.
I don't think I'm alone in these feelings mostly because I've heard those expressions, "getting through the holidays", "the holidays are so hard", etc. There's something about being out of the cadence and rhythm of my day for week after week that can really make me just feel "Yuck!". I try each year to not fall prey into this downward spiral, but so far, there is an empty feeling each year. It is best remedied by planning a full schedule around those times I know will be hard, but that takes energy too! Next year I hope to plan earlier so I can avoid the depression and focus on the blessings. So.......
Back in Ordinary Time, back to our routine, and I'm feeling good!