My mind functions best when I'm looking at written-out lists, so I'm going to chart out the 2015 Advent plan here: all of the things, all in one place. Possibly wildly overambitious; we shall see.
Nov 29: First Sunday of Advent. Nativity scene out, figurines scattered around the living room as they begin their journeys to Bethlehem. Advent wreath on the kitchen table. Beeswax Advent candles rolled (because I'm crazy and thought it was a good idea to wait to make them on the same day that we were setting up everything else. Don't do that next year.) Begin nightly reflections from Magnificat Advent booklet.
This week: hopefully finish making and mail out presents. At least some of them? One trip to the post office before Friday would be great...
Dec 5: kids put out shoes before bed; I put gold chocolate coins in shoes before bed. Find St Nicholas toy in the linen closet (I think) and set him by the shoes.
Dec 6: Second Sunday of Advent; St Nicholas. Find shoes in morning. Move nativity scene people closer to stable. Make fruitcakes some time in the coming week. Also, Christmas cards.
Dec 8: Immaculate Conception. Noon Mass. Make something with blueberries for dessert.
Dec 9: St Juan Diego. Read about OL Guadalupe with kids, print off a coloring page for Little Bear. Mexican for supper.
Dec 11: absolute deadline for mailing cards & presents out of state, if they're going to have any real chance of getting there by Christmas.
Dec 12: OL Guadalupe. Read same books as Wednesday. Something for dessert... maybe chocolate? With cinnamon? Also, bake St Lucy buns.
Dec 13: Third/Gaudete Sunday of Advent; St Lucy. St Lucy buns for breakfast. Wear pink/rosé/roses? Move people closer to the stable. If I'm really on top of things, make Kit's stocking this week.
Dec 16, 18-19: Ember days. Meatless.
Dec 17: begin O Antiphons (sing pertinent verse of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" before supper). Also, may begin Christmas cookie baking.
Dec 20: Fourth Sunday of Advent. Cut & put lights on Christmas tree. Continue decorating with kids over week when I have time/hands. Move people closer to the stable.
Dec 23: bake Stöllen. Mary & Joseph can arrive at the stable.
Dec 24: feast of seven fishes. See how many types of fish we actually come up with. Hopefully presents are wrapped by now...? Everyone (including Baby Jesus) (not including the Wise Men) to stable after kids are asleep. Note to self: Baby Jesus is on the icon shelf, behind St Luke.
Sometimes I look at this list and feel like I'm taking the easy route and hardly doing anything, and sometimes I look at it and have to suppress the urge to laugh hysterically because how in the world am I going to do all those things? And really, make all the presents this week? Indeed. And somehow my mother always manages to have a thoroughly deep-cleaned house before Christmas, and that sounds so wonderful... impossible, but wonderful.
Everything important will get done. The less important things may not, and that will be okay. What's "important" changes, too; we didn't light the Advent wreath or read a reflection tonight, because Little Bear got sick and then fell asleep before supper. Did I fail at Advent already by not lighting the candle while Matt and I ate quickly, listening for Little Bear instead of discussing some profound meditation on the coming of Christ? Of course not. Advent is Advent regardless, and we just have to celebrate it as best we're able given our family circumstances, taking it a day (or less) at a time. Because I do love celebrating these feasts scattered throughout Advent, I make a point of trying to make them special. But life happens, and sometimes that just winds up being finding Little Bear a coloring page online; sometimes it's closer to just barely remembering to tack on a "Pray for us" to the saint of the day at the tail end of bedtime prayers. And that's still okay. We'll try again tomorrow.