I've posted before about our Advent traditions and since yesterday was the beginning of Advent, we did our traditional observance. And since I continue to be told how amazing I am (not!) and that many people just don't know how I do it (which makes me wonder what it is they think I'm doing), I thought I would give you a little peek into what our little celebration looked like.
In my mind, I always picture these observances of Advent as though through a movie lens. My children are dressed nicely and their hair is combed. We finish with dinner where we had intellectually stimulating discussions, followed the solemn lighting of the first (or second or third..) Advent candle. Then we all repair to the piano where we sing our favorite carols (in harmony!). It's a lovely scene isn't it? If you think this is what I life really looks like, I'm afraid I am going to have to disillusion you.
We did have dinner together. And there was conversation. I'm not sure of its intellectual level, but I think we were able to avoid knock-knock jokes and endless discussions of what roller coaster each person likes best. Super heroes may have been discussed, I don't actually remember. And we did light the first candle. There was only minor bickering about which child got to do the lighting and both little girls each asked the questions, "Why do we light one candle?" The explanation was read as well as the Bible passage with limited muttering and fussing from the masses.
We also went and sang carols around the piano. This is normally a favorite activity for everyone, but I think people were too tired and too excited for it to go well. We had attended the annual Advent Workshop at church and the combination of treats and fun and no naps took its toll. The little girls were so wound up all they wanted to do was run around like crazy children and K. was quite happy to join them in their craziness. And because they were over-tired, they would burst into loud wails at any little frustration. Then TM, who had been hanging from the pillar on the half wall, jumped/fell off and twisted on muscles in his chest as a result. Nothing serious, but it hurt. For him, though, pain is a trigger and sends his anxiety level skyrocketing. And through it all, I kept playing and (some) children kept singing. Well, until L. accidentally closed the keyboard lid on my hands and I lost my temper. Um, not the von Trapps. J. and I finally threw in the towel and sent everyone up to bed. Ah, memories.
I'm sure that next will go better. We will be back into the habit and people will be less tired. Why do I share all this? Well, for one thing to show that we are just a normal family, with normal children who get tired, and with normal parents who also get tired. We do our best, which is what anyone can do. I also share it because I think some people have the mistaken belief that unless everything looks as if it should be in a movie, it's not worth doing or they're not doing it 'right'. Or, they give up doing things they would like to because it doesn't match their mental expectation.
But, you know, things rarely go right, especially where children are involved. Someone will always be tired or grumpy or out-of-sorts or silly or particularly loud. It is not any one dinner or event or celebration, but it is rather the cumulative memories that we need to consider. When my older children think about family dinners, it is not any one dinner they remember (well, unless there was something particularly funny that happened), but the general sense of family dinners as a whole... loud, boisterous, fun, and comforting in their familiarity and togetherness.
So, don't despair if you are trying to start having dinner together or family devotions or a new way of celebrating Christmas. It may not seem as though what you are doing it making a difference, but keep trying and it will. Creating memories is more than a one shot deal.
Back to the five children I'm advocating for and won't let people forget. Monday is Chad's day.
Continuing to advocate for the children in Bulgaria. Their files were sent back which means that they cannot be advocated for on Reese's Rainbow or have any funds donated towards their adoptions. It means they are essentially invisible and unwanted. It tells the government and the agencies that yes, indeed, their initial assumptions were correct. No one wants a child like these. They are not worth it.
But they are! They are created by God in His image and we are called to care for them. They are truly the least of these. I cannot let them go; I think about them in nearly every free moment that I have. I'm going to post one of their pictures here at the bottom of each of my posts each day. Would you join me in praying for each of these children? Pray that a family would come forward who is willing to adopt them. Love them. Pray that they will know they are not forgotten? There is still hope for these little ones as their files can be specially asked for, it just adds time to the process.
This is Chad. He is 9 years old and has always lived in an institution. An institution with severe neglect. No one has ever even asked to look at his file and now it looks as though they never will. Pray that God will not let this little one become invisible. Pray that his parents will find him and show him what it means to be loved.