A Little Advent Conspiracy

I’ve written here before about my homemade advent calendar filled with activities for our family to do during the month of December. It’s been a fun addition to the holiday season that we will definitely plan on doing again. The little daily surprise activities have really made getting in the holiday spirit more enjoyable. At least for the girls. Every day the girls jump up & down, begging to read the advent for the day.

But what about Dad? You know, the one who prefers to watch from a distance in the grinchy man cave while the girls throw around Christmas fru-fru? Yeah, that guy. Um, yeah. My bad. The advent list wasn’t written for him. 😦

Cutting paper snowflakes, stringing popcorn garlands, designing ornaments & making fudge are all great fun for a passel of girls, but not so much if you’re the only guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s faithfully done his part, cutting out snowy designs, enduring homeschool talent shows,  & even decorating gingerbread houses.  This awesome Dad has gone along with all of it without complaining. Much.

That’s my man, helping Z make a gingerbread house.

He’s such a great guy.

About 15 days in to our 25 days of fru-fru-ey madnesss, he rolled his eyes when I pulled out the paint. That’s when I began to get the sense that maybe I needed to make a change. After all, this advent thing is supposed to be for the whole family, not just the girls. So I began a little advent conspiracy.

The girls and I made a quick run to Walgreens to get some t.p. And came home with a bag full of goodies. That place is such a life-saver with their aisle of toys. Because I definitely did NOT want to go to the mall less than a week before Christmas. There are horror stories about that.

When we got home, I installed batteries while the girls did the testing & strategic planning. We stashed our surprises then waited impatiently. I threw a bunch of stuff in a pot on the stove for chili. When would Dad come home from work so we could ambush him? Cue Mr. Rogers.

Finally, the doorbell rang. Daddy was home! The girls whispered and giggled. Then they got quiet. A little too quiet. He knew something was up, but what?

It was her turn to read the advent activity.

He didn’t know what to expect.

Then he opened the present.

This could be fun…what’s the note say?

ATTACK! He never saw it coming 🙂

A nerf war outside at night with your favorite little people and chili to warm you up afterwards, what’s not to love?!

The girls ready for the ambush!

Can you tell little Z dresses herself these days ?

Ugly Christmas Sweater

I ran across this website  today & it is a hoot! Makes me wish I had an ugly sweater party to go to just so I could get one. Because I would have to be crazy to actually buy one for any other reason, right ? 😉

For your enjoyment, here is a video showcasing some of their ugliest sweaters.

Merry Grinchmas! My Holiday Revolution.

Around this time every year, my husband jokingly refers to himself as the Grinch. Because he hates doesn’t like to fight the crowds shopping for gifts. And holiday celebrating is a lot of work! You have to go to parties, parades and gingerbread house contests. And let’s not forget putting out lots of decorations that take a great deal of effort (like spending 3 hours testing every light bulb on the Christmas tree to figure out which one is burned out) when you only get to enjoy them for a few weeks. Making a big fru fru-ey deal about anything is just not a part of who my husband is. And I love that about him. But it is kinda funny since we have only girls, and 3 of them. Doesn’t God have a great sense of humor? Yes, my poor hubby has to put up with lots of fru fru-iness in this house.

That’s why we gave him Mr. Grinch holiday pj’s for Christmas a couple of years ago. So while we girls are running around the house singing Christmas carols and tossing tinsel & garlands on everything that doesn’t move, he can proudly relax in his Grinch pj’s, drink his cup of coffee, & enjoy watching our girly madness from his Grinchy cave. Because everybody knows that’s not what the Grinch does. The Grinch hates Christmas, right? Or does he?

You see, I’ve read the book by Dr. Seuss. And I remember what happened to the Grinch at the end of the story. He learns the real meaning of Christmas.

Even though he likes to play it tough, I think, deep down my husband is a Christmas softie. 🙂

Christmas isn’t about the fru fru…

In my favorite line from the book, the Grinch says, “Maybe Christmas…doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Christmas isn’t about all the decorations I put up or how much money I’m spending or how many presents I’m buying for everyone in the family this year. It’s not about how pretty my Christmas tree is or how many church services & holiday events I can go to. It’s not about how many cookies I bake, all the Advent activities I do with the kids, or the big family Christmas feast. Those things are good. But they are also just…things. Things that can distract from the real Christmas. Sometimes, we get so busy with all the holiday trappings that we forget to stop and think: “What is Christmas really all about?”

Turns out, the Grinch is actually pretty cool. He realizes that Christmas is about people, not things. You can’t buy Christmas. Or spend too much money on gifts and then wrap it up and put it under the tree. After he takes all the Christmas-y goodness away, Christmas still comes.

Because, in the end, Christmas is all about one Person, really. (It’s the God Who came as the Baby in the manger, just in case you were wondering.) Everything else is just for fun.

What do you suppose would happen to our hearts if we went without all the holiday fru fru every now and then? Maybe, just maybe our hearts wouldn’t feel so tight. And we would have more room in our hearts to share with those who are finding it hard to celebrate this year because they find themselves alone. Or maybe those who don’t have enough money to make ends meet, let alone buy Christmas gifts….hmmm.

I think  my husband is on to something. So that’s why I’ve decided to make this year a Merry Grinchmas! Kind of a Grinchy Christmas revolution, if you will. You can join me if you want to. My slogan is “Christmas does not come from a store.” I’m going all “Grinchy-rogue” & stealing Christmas back.

What does a Merry Grinchmas look like? Am I holding signs and picketing the mall? Ummm, no. Am I refusing to celebrate all things Christmas? No. Am I decorating my house only with things I’ve made myself? Am I giving only hand-made presents? No way!  Well, maybe just a little. But mostly it means that I’m being intentional about removing my family from all of the madness that Christmas commercialism has become in the malls and big box stores. I’m making our Christmas simpler. Without all of the “have-to-do’s” and “gotta-have-its.” It’s about taking the pressure off yourself to make a big to-do (although you can if you really want to). The focus is instead on family fun & together-ness. Most of our Christmas activities this year will take place in our home. Shocking, I know.

It’s time to relax and make our spirits bright the old-fashioned way. Without ribbons, tags, packages and bows. A little less fru-fru.

Now please excuse me while I go carve me some holiday roast beast.

Merry Grinchmas from our house to yours!

What Advent Means to Me This Year

Drop down ye heavens, from above,
and let the skies pour down righteousness

Adventus. Coming. A season of expectant waiting and anticipation.

Waiting for what?

Can you find it in the glow of lights on an artificial Christmas tree?

Where does my strength come from?

How do I find faith?

Is it in the burning of advent flames?

We count the days…

while it ignites in adoring eyes so bright.

Seeing the unexpected…

Held fast by hands remembering.

Stories that aren’t just stories.

We have a new home this year far away from family. In this season of festive over-abundance, it is tempting to think about what we are missing. What we don’t have instead of what we have.

But that is the reason we have advent. We look for Him. In this season and all year long, HE remains.

Always.

Immanuel. God among us.

Advent helps us remember all that God has done and wait expectantly for His coming provision.

He WILL provide. Everything I know I need. And even some things I don’t know that I need.

He is faithful.

This world will fail us, but He is there. The righteousness of God blooming  in the wastelands of our sinful hearts.

So we watch & pray.

Waiting for our Savior.

Remember and receive Him with open hearts.

So humbly He came…

Fear not, for I will save thee:
for I am the Lord thy God,
the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

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