When You’re Failing At Advent

I’m glad God doesn’t grade me for my holiday decor.

Or our Jesse tree execution, family traditions, and acts of service this time of year, for that matter.

I would probably be scoring a C+ at best, and that’s me being verrry generous because tis’ the season.


This week, inspired by an Advent talk at my Mom’s Group, we went for a drive to look at Christmas lights to celebrate St. Lucia’s Feast Day. I talked up the after-PJ surprise to assure cooperation in the bath routine. We drank hot chocolate in our slippers and tried to find the best lights.

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Cute idea on paper, not quite as cute in practice.

“Is this the surprise??”

“I’m bored.”

“Are we going home now?”

Why do these things seem to work for everyone else but us?

Why does starting traditions sometimes feel so forced?

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And then there’s the decor…

Growing up, we would crank Amy Grant’s ‘A Christmas Album’ while my parents, my brother and I decorated for Christmas and wrapped presents.

This year, honestly, between work trips and other travel, we just didn’t have time to do it well.

Lots of our decorations are also missing  (Jesse tree printouts, Kids Bible that coincides with these ghetto printouts), broken (Advent wreath candles) or waterlogged (sorry Tower of Babel).

Christmas decorating felt fragmented at best this year.

And I need to get my butt over it.


I mean, really. Is the season about having the cutest Christmas wreath or the most polished traditions? Me thinks not.

I don’t imagine Mary was thrilled about riding on a donkey for some 80 miles while being 8 1/2 months pregnant. I also don’t imagine being refused a hotel room and giving birth in a manger beside farm animals was part of her birth plan.

Mary said yes to that less-than-perfect scene to give birth to her Son anyways.

If this beautiful, selfless act is what we are celebrating this Christmas then maybe we can lay down our standards of what Advent should look like.


If you’re feeling like your Advent looks a mess, just see it as practice for what the 2018 Christian calendar will look like.

Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. So long romance.

Easter falls on April Fools Day. No comment needed.

This year the liturgical calendar will serve as a continued reminder that we need to laugh at the messiness of it all and remember it’s not about us.

I walked in on this lovely scene a week ago as my older two were playing Church. Humor about the fairy-like dancing aside, as my oldest put it, “We all know, Santa Clause brings us toys. And most kids think that’s the good reason about it, but the other good reason is that it’s God’s birthday. So we have to kind of pay attention to that.”

Despite our broken candles and missing Storybook Bibles, somehow our kids are still getting it.

While hitting up Christmas clearance on the 26th should probably be on the agenda because standards, if my current Advent is to the tune of fairy hymns rather than Breathe of Heaven, so be it.

Like any good story, Advent can be told in many ways using different perspectives, voices and, yes, even traditions and decor. The story remains the same.

What are ways that your holiday season looks different or the same from what it used to? What new traditions have you adopted?

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