breaking bondage buttonI have a confession to make. I’ve never done Advent with my kids. They are 14 and 17, so my opportunity of opening cute little doors to an Advent calendar are probably gone.

I did try. One year. I went out and bought this little festive ring and the purple and pink candles. I set it on my kitchen table, but the candle kept getting knocked over because the little ring was kind of flimsy.

Early in the process, one night ,as I forced invited my little family to sit around the table to read this devotional I had printed off and light the candles, one of the candles fell over and set the little ring on fire. Fortunately, the Coach still had half a glass of water that he had the presence of mind to throw on the flames.

That was the end of Advent in my house.

I’ve always felt vaguely guilty that I never did Advent with my kids. Every Fall, in the back of my mind is the idea that I really should get my act together and do that with them. Or maybe do a Jesse Tree. Every year it doesn’t happen.


I’m not sure why I feel so guilty. I didn’t grow up doing Advent and our church denomination doesn’t do Advent either – but the idea of slowing down and anticipating Christmas seemed like a good one. After all, I wanted my boys to know that Christmas was more than presents and treats right?

The other day, after I asked my boys for about the eighth time (somewhat rewording the question each time) what Christmas tradition and/or memory stands out to them, they got someone impatient with me.

My oldest son said something along the lines of, “Why is this such a big deal to you? We hang out with the grandparents and eat good food and celebrate Jesus.”

And really its that simple isn’t it? For most people, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth, spending time with family and enjoying good food and maybe a few presents. Yet, we can make Christmas – and really every other thing in our lives – complicated and fraught with the guilt and stress of our own failed expectations.


By the way, I have nothing against Advent. I still think it is a great tradition (and I’m reading a great Advent devotional right now by John Piper), but the truth is, starting in November, our family enters into our busiest season – basketball begins. My husband has been a coach for a couple decades now, and even before my boys were old enough to follow him onto the hardwood, those weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with practices and long hours for him, and dinners squeezed into available time slots for all of us.

This year, my oldest son asked if I could take the money I’d normally spend on him for Christmas and use it to buy his friend’s basketball shoes, since that friend’s family couldn’t really afford it. So, despite the fact that we didn’t do Advent or a Jesse Tree or anything specific, at least one of my kids managed to take away the meaning of what Christmas is really about.

There are so many good things we could be doing that sometimes, we can get caught up in the idea that we have to do them ALL. Even if we can’t get to it, that expectation hangs over our heads and adds unnecessary guilt and stress to our already bursting at the seams life.

Add to this the numerous mommy blogs and craft blogs and DIY blogs and healthy eating blogs and Pinterest (which could be its own post!), and suddenly what we do for our families, our homes and our churches is never enough.

I am hoping you will humor me and do a little exercise with me. I want you to take out a piece of paper and a pencil (or whatever writing tool you happen to have handy). Now take a few minutes to write down every single thing that is hanging out in the back of your mind as something you should be doing.

Go ahead – write it all down. Every little thing that quietly nags at you to get done – someday. Take your time – i’ll wait.


Okay – do you have your list? Now I want you to look at each item on your list and ask yourself a couple questions.

  1. Is this item on your list something that absolutely needs to be done for the well-being of you, your children, your husband or your family as a whole? An absolute need might include learning to cook in a new way because your child was just diagnosed with a severe food allergy, or it might be making spending time with God a priority in your daily life.
  2. If the item is not an absolute must for your family’s well-being, is it something you or a family member is passionate about and brings joy? I am one of those people who likes to try new things. I knit. I love to try new craft projects. I like to garden and do photography. I adore reading and learning new things. You can see what my problem is – I have hobby ADHD. I have to limit myself to a few things or I end up with all these projects hanging over my head and a mess!
  3. Is God asking you to do something specific? Recently, I felt God prompting me to invite my neighbor to go to the grocery with me because she doesn’t have a car. At the time, I didn’t really want to because I felt like I was “too busy” and it would be weird and uncomfortable. Instead, I’ve found that it really doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes of extra time, and I’m developing a friendship with my neighbor. Please understand, I am talking about what God is asking YOU to do – not about every need that is out there.

Now, I want you to let everything else on the list go. Yep – just let all those things go. Go ahead – tear up the list, burn it, or make it into a paper airplane and sail it into the garbage.

There are probably a few things on the list that don’t fall under the above three categories but you still feel you want to do them (say, you feel like you should clean out your basement or organize your pictures), then do yourself a big favor. Schedule the time to do it, get it done and cross it off your list.

But please be realistic. If you’ve just had twins, you can probably wait to clean out the basement and organize the pictures until life gets a bit more normalized and you are sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time.

I’d love to know what things that were on your list that you let go, so please feel free to share in the comments.

Blessings, Rosanne

p.s. If you want to read the first post in the series Breaking the Bondage of Busyness, head over here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.