I dusted and vacuumed yesterday.
I'm not sure how long it had been since it was last done, but let me put it this way: I keep photos of the kids on a table near the front door and change them out for each season or holiday (sometimes the extent of my decorating) - and my poor kids were still stuck in summertime, playing on the beach. They totally missed Halloween and playing in piles of leaves and dressing up as Pilgrims.
(Translation: I haven't dusted since before Halloween! I wasn't joking when I said I needed my Dad to come up and clean my house!)
My house is by no stretch of the imagination "clean", but at least the main rooms appear presentable and my Christmas decorations have moved from the downstairs storage room to the middle of the livingroom, thanks to 2/3 of my kids. That's major progress, believe me.
However, a few years ago the decorations spent more time in those boxes in the middle of the room than they did spread out where we could see them. I'm determined that doesn't happen again this year, but at the same time, I'm determined not to stress about it.
Or about gifts, either. I don't want to go totally giftless, like last year, because I believe giving is a beautiful way to show your love, but I'm not going to let that aspect of Christmas stress me out, either, or feel compelled to go even broker in my giving.
Instead, I want to focus on family and friends and my faith during this season of Advent. I want to slow down and savor and think and simplify.
There will be parties and gatherings with friends. I'll need to work, both at my paying jobs and on my book to beat the December 19th deadline. I'll have trips back and forth to Houston to help my parents with doctor's appointments and whatever else they need.
But over and above it all, I want to stay centered and focused. I want to breathe and love and give thanks. I want to look inward and prepare my soul.
I'm wishing that in the days ahead you are able to slow down and breathe and find meaning in the trappings of the season, whatever they may be for you.
"Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money. We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, a little help, forgiveness. And the joy we give will certainly come back to us.…Let us pray that this presence of the liberating joy of God shines forth in our lives."
~ Pope Benedict XVI