Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Evaluation

A few weeks back, I stumbled upon this post from Passionate Homemaking, "Simplifying the Holidays: Holiday Evaluation." I thought this was a great idea because without intention, there is no way to maneuver the holiday season that doesn't leave you frazzled and lost.  Advent and Christmas are particularly challenging for us because my husband is a pastor.  Advent is a very busy season for him at church.  As a result, I try to be supportive of his time at work ensuring that we don't distract him from that, but also ensure we have time to celebrate as a family.

I am extremely lucky in that my husband is very involved in parenting our children and is willing to help out around the house, especially in cooking and kitchen related stuff.  But during Advent, I try to take over everything household, while also managing the to-do list of the holidays, gift buying, wrapping, holiday fun events, etc because I know how busy he is.  I try to put on my best homemaking game face (what does that look like anyway) and succeed in ways that I am often fail in order to help our family survive enjoy the season.  As a result, I thought this kind of inventory of priorities and tasks could be a great starting place for us.  I bookmarked the link and made a note to come back to these questions with my husband in the next few weeks before we got swept away by holiday madness.  A few days ago, I actually managed to pin my husband down in the same room as me while my children played suspiciously quietly so we could take stock of our hopes and priorities for the upcoming holiday season.

We asked ourselves the questions put forth.  Our ideal Christmas was described as quiet (ha!), family, play, yummy food, traditions, music, not big and crazy.  Activities that we thought were particularly important to us were getting our tree, going on a Christmas train ride, decorating, baking, taking pictures, celebrating the Advent season, and thoughtful and meaningful gift giving.  We have a lot of traditions we are excited to keep including a Christmas train ride, cutting down our Christmas tree, a daily advent calendar with activities for the day, watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, sending Christmas cards, going to church on Christmas Eve, and giving Christmas pajamas.  We also want to add a intentional tradition of attending Sunday church services in Advent, doing Advent wreath devotions as a family, and some sort of meaningful giving of both our time and resources as a family.  Our focus is family.  While we love to be hospitable, Advent is a really challenging time for us where we are somewhat hanging by a thread as a result of my husband's work schedule, the normal busyness, and having two small children.  In reality, our focus is in creating meaning focused on Christ as a family during this holiday season.  This means making time to do things together, and it means focusing our celebrating on the Christ in Christmas.  In that, we kind of answered how much emphasis our usual activities place on the spiritual side of Christmas.  The answer is a decent amount, but we want to and can do more as we establish traditions for our family.

The last question encourages you to list the asks of Christmas and think about which ones you enjoy, which ones are stressful, which ones you can take off the list or do in a way that could be more enjoyable.  For us, so much of this does fall on me, and so for me it's advance planning and organization that helps it all work.  We also talked about making sure my husband as a very normal work schedule as often as possible so that when a rare something comes up that pulls him away (like our son's Christmas show for school), it isn't the stress it could be if that was happening all the time.  We also realized that one of the most helpful things is striking a home management routine, because this is what we struggle with year-round.  It is important that we get that down and strictly adhere to it, because if our home is in chaos and then you add in holiday chaos, I can already feel the stress and tension gathering in my shoulders and neck.

This is the first of a few steps that we are working on in order to prepare for a less-stress, more Christ-filled holiday season.  The countdown is on as we are less than a week away from the start of Advent!  Coming soon will be a post on how we are choosing to celebrate Advent in our home this year....

Go and check out Passionate Homemaking's Holiday Evaluation and prepare yourself for a less-stress, more whatever-you-want-it-to-be filled with holiday season!

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