I spent yesterday making ornaments. Yep, you read that correctly. It was January 22 and I was making ornaments to hang on a Christmas tree. You might be wondering, ‘is she that far behind, or is she so organized that she is working eleven months in advance?’ Actually the answer to both of those questions is ‘yes.’
I am always that far behind on something. Confession time: I still have a pumpkin in my yard near my front porch and it is visible to all who drive by our house. Here’s the worst part of it. It is a REAL pumpkin. (ick! I know!) I totally intended to get rid of it after Thanksgiving. I would see it every time I drove up to the house and think ‘I’m going to go get that thing right now’ but then there was always someone in the house that had other plans for me. Eventually I just left it there for my own humor in hopes that I will have my own pumpkin patch growing in my front yard next year. Believe me, no one is trying to keep up with the Buxton’s on our street!!
Though I am behind on a lot of things, in a way my making the ornaments is because I am looking ahead to December of this year. Last January as I was setting some goals for myself one of the things that I wanted to focus on in 2009 was establishing family traditions. I am truly humbled by the fact that I get to create memories for our kids. Kids find such great joy and security in traditions. (If we skip hotdog/game night at our house, you would think the world was coming to an end!)
In early January of 2009 I looked at my Christmas tree and dreaded the thought of taking it down. I savor the moments in the morning where I sip my coffee and read my Bible by Christmas tree light. So the thought came to me, ‘why don’t I start the tradition of a winter tree?’ I was reminded of my dear seminary neighbor friend Bev who had a tree on her front porch that she decorated each month according to the holidays. I always thought it was such a great idea. Again…I must stop and say that Bev and her husband James are more friends that I know my mother prayed into our lives. Most of our treasured memories from our second stint at seminary include the Brown family. So if you aren’t praying friends into your kids lives…START NOW!
A tradition was born. I had already been frustrated a bit with the month of December. I can hear some of you gasping. I know, I know. It is the month we celebrate our Savior’s birth. I’m supposed to feel joy and peace in December. But in that month I am also supposed to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and my own wedding anniversary and quite honestly there are moments when I have the tendency to feel more stress than peace. I truly wanted to take steps to change that.
So the winter tree was born. My daughter’s birthday is December 6. I made a decision that Christmas traditions at our house will begin December 7. From Thanksgiving to December 6, my time and energy would be spent on my daughter’s special day. Since the Christmas tree does not go up until after the sixth, I decided we would leave the tree up longer in January. I knew keeping all the Christmasy decorations on it would drive me crazy. So last January we stripped the tree bare and put all the Christmas decorations away. I decided one of the Buxton’s January traditions would be making winter ornaments to hang on our winter tree. Last year we made sleds out of short popsicle sticks and snowflakes out of beads and pipe cleaners. This year we are working on ice skates out of fun foam and paper clips. Thanks to after-Christmas clearances, I have been able to add some other white and silver accents. All of this fun without the other pressures of December!
When I looked over my 2009 goals and realized that I had only fully completed 3 of the 10, I was frustrated with myself. But then I looked at my winter tree and I was reminded to focus on the successes of 2009 not the failures. I want to train my kids to do that so I must model it.
In thirty years I don’t want my kids to remember a mom that was stressed out during the month of December. I want to model joy and peace for them. No longer do I succumb to the pressure of having my tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. No longer do I feel guilty if my kids don’t have a meaningful advent activity to do each day of the Christmas season. It seems contradictory to me. Jesus came to this world as that precious baby to bring ‘peace to all men’ and so that we could live in the joy of our salvation. Yet, so many of us have the tendency to trade our peace and joy for stress and guilt.
In my last post I said I might be brave and share some of my goals for this year…stay tuned that is coming and I am hoping that some of you might join me to help me complete two of my goals….
If you are on facebook I posted a video this morning I found that some of you will really enjoy and it relates to this post. Sorry I couldn’t quickly figure out how to get it to link here, so I gave up!