Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Planning Monday

We re-purposed today to spend the entire day planning Advent and Christmas rather than doing school. For the last couple of years, my domestic and school duties have become big enough that I don't ever seem to have a handle on this holy season and all its demands. I've become increasingly stressed out about it, dropping the ball right and left, and not enjoying myself too much.

Part of this is that I can't stay awake long enough at night to put in the several hours nightly it would take to accomplish various Christmas projects. Last night was typical in that I kept literally falling asleep while reading the children's bedtime story at 8:30 p.m.

So, yay for homeschooling as a lifestyle, which gave me the freedom for us to plan Christmas today instead of doing academic schooling: life first, school second, learning always.

Today was super productive! Additionally, I hit many Cyber Monday sales, saving lots of money.

  • Placed my grocery order . . . Not only was Harris Teeter having crazy sales on holiday foods, on which I stocked up, and every day items (like cereal for $1 per box!), any order picked up today from online ordering was 20% off in its entirety!
  • Ordered our Christmas cards at 60% off. Prepared address list.
  • Ordered various gifts for extended family, hitting Cyber Monday sales.
  • Make our decisions about charitable giving during Advent.
  • Got Christmas gift lists to inquisitive grandparents who asked for them.
  • Got Advent box out of the attic, put out decorations and Christmas books to read aloud. Put out the Advent wreath with candles I ordered last year on discount after Christmas (I recommend doing that each year, not so much for the discount but because who can remember to buy Advent candles in November? Not me!).
  • Set up the gift-wrapping station (folding table with wrapping supplies) in Chris' office, as most relatives send us their gifts unwrapped for me to wrap.
  • Ordered holy cards for various home and parish events for the next six months' time from Catholic Springtime, which was having a triple-your-order sale.
  • Scheduled virtually all of our Advent and Christmas events, from the Holiday Tea at the Ballantyne Hotel to what day we bake-and-freeze our cookies, what day we buy our tree, what day we decorate it, St. Lucy's feast day and Our Lady of Guadalupe's, when we go ice skating, and so forth.

We're doing something new this year with the children, hoping to keep it simple but also live the penitential season of Advent. Over lunch of turkey slices, crackers, and nuts (livin' it up over here), I grabbed my favorite Advent spiritual worksheet and talked over the meaning of (1) voluntary amendments of life, (2) acts of penance, and (3) works of charity.

We are going to have Secret Advent Partners, similar to Secret Santa (a game I had to explain to the children), the idea of which I got from a mother of 13 (?) children who lives locally. Each day, all of us will draw a family member's name out of a bowl and then try to do at least one nice thing in secret for that person. We talked through many examples, such as making the person's bed, bringing them a glass of water at dinner, mentioning that her dress looks nice, inviting the sibling to play, or being more obedient to a request of the parent. The children were so very excited to play this 'game'! After our first drawing of today's names, the children raced around, doing secret nice things for each other. I have high hopes for this Advent practice!

Picking her secret Advent partner of the day

I considered having us draw one name for all of Advent, but then realized that I really want to "mix it up." We have some pairings of siblings in this family who very much need to learn to be nicer to each other, so I want to increase the chances that they will draw each other's names, one day at a time.

Happy first Monday of Advent!

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