Advent is probably my favorite season out of the entire year. There is so much meaning behind it, that by the time we get to Christmas Day, I am overwhelmed with the gift that Jesus' coming is to us. This year, I had a heightened focus on not being the "White Witch" to my kids. For those of you who have read C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, you may remember that the White Witch is the imposter ruler over Narnia who makes it "always Winter, and never Christmas" for the inhabitants of that land.
This year, the Advent season was more about preparing my heart for Christmas. As we walked through the month of December, I had to mentally check myself when I would start to feel out of sorts about things that didn't matter in the long run. I had to choose to not let flour and cookie dough crumbs all over my floors and counter tops not dictate my mood. For my children, I wanted them to sense the wonder that Advent should be different than the rest of the year. We still had our day to day responsibilities, but they were not the focus of our days. We took breaks from school work to bake cookies. We watched movies about Christmas and read lots of stories. We had gift exchanges, and extra time spent with friends. We had LOTS more treats than usual. We stayed up late and played games, or drove around and looked at Christmas lights. I had to remind myself often that the purpose of this season was to point my kids (and more often, myself!) to the expectation of the greatest, and most lavish gift we could ever receive in God coming to live among us. I didn't want to be the White Witch. ;)
We made lots of special memories this year (get ready for picture overload!):
See the shadow? :)
We got this beautiful tree home, and had to saw a significant part of the trunk off before it would fit!
My cookie baking posse was extra enthusiastic this year. My cleaning sensibilities had to undergo an adjustment. ;)
One of the best parts of the season for Olivia was getting to attend the Milwaukee Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. Getting to go with a best buddy made it all the sweeter.
The girls even braved the freezing winds to catch this rotating sign out in front of the venue!
The performance was wonderful, with a live orchestra, and lavish set and costumes! We topped it off with a hot cocoa date after the show, and Olivia was in heaven.
We made Christmas cards to pass out at a Nursing home during an outreach Olivia's ballet class had. The kids absolutely loved going to town with paper, markers, scissors, and glue.
Such intense concentration!
He was so excited that he'd made a "pop-up" card, and wrote the sentiment himself!
Julia colored a little, but card-making isn't really her jam (yet).
Olivia performed a little ballet dance for the residents at the nursing home, before passing out the cards we made. She was really nervous before the dance, but then she got out there, and her smile lit up the whole room!
She was so proud.
We also made sure we squeezed in a gingerbread house decorating evening.
They had all had significant amounts of sugar by this point. No gingerbread house making session is complete without eating more than you're using on the house. ;)
God was so gracious to me this Advent and continued to remind me - sometimes gently, sometimes sternly, that the state of my heart was much more important to him than the state of my holiday goings on. I am so thankful that I serve a Savior that knows my weaknesses, and left everything to humble himself in the greatest way imaginable. I am praying that these happy memories are infused with pointing to that unimaginable gift we were given in a manger.
It was a blessed Advent, indeed.