“She will need to know your Christmas traditions so she can look forward to them.”
I stopped in my tracks. What Christmas traditions? I mean, sure, we put up a Christmas tree, but surely everyone did that.
Julie Samaniego, the woman that helped us adopt our four-year old, was adamant.
“Your new daughter has no idea what is coming around the corner. You need to prepare her by explaining exactly how you celebrate the holiday season.”
That conversation was twelve years ago and it brought me to a new understanding about TRADITION and FAMILY and UNITY.
Our new daughter needed to know: WHO ARE YOU? WHERE DO I FIT IN? WHAT WILL THIS LOOK LIKE?
So we developed some Christmas traditions. These have ebbed and flowed through the years, of course. Here’s our current list:
WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL? If you need help, just adopt a four-year old.
Welcome to The Parenting Dare blog (and podcast!) My name is Lori Doerneman and I love the ideal of perfection. I love love love thinking about ways to improve just about every aspect of my life.
That gives me energy.
So it has been natural and normal and in my comfort zone to work on an imperfection of mine this Advent.
If you have been following this Advent Challenge, I’ve been focusing on NOT speaking negatively of others.
I’ve been trying to improve this tendency by putting it firmly in my conscious mind, helping me raise my personal awareness. And wowsa, I have all sorts of little “ways” that I never really knew about.
My whole goal: perfection with my speech. That sounds so awesome, doesn’t it?
As a blogger, I decided to make this a four week challenge and I scheduled it out in my editorial calendar, all nice and tidy. I knew I could lead the charge here.
Only issue: I suck at it.
I have gone a day or two or three being perfect and then I speak unkindly or uncharitably. Again.
Why couldn’t this Advent be about me entering into this realm more fully and becoming a better human being?
I told Jesus about my frustrations with my inability to be perfect. I let Him know how I had this whole Advent Challenge all planned out and I was a pretty disappointed in my inabilities.
And you know what He told me?
“Be the little sister.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but I was reading “He and I,” a book that I’ve had for about twenty years, where Jesus speaks to Gabrielle Bossis. On March 10, 1938, Gabrielle was reflecting on the Holy Family, staying in thought with the good St. Joseph, the most holy Mother and the only Son, when He said, ever so tenderly,
Be the Little Sister.
Those four words literally jumped off the page and went right into my soul. I had to stop reading at that point because I was shocked by the invitation.
I have been reflecting on those words. For days. Then weeks. Be the Little Sister.
And I was able to see something clearly. I was being faithful to an ideal: (and in my self-sufficient way, I go here often) If I DO this thing and if I try hard enough, I can become better, stronger, kinder, more SOMETHING.
I know that is part of the spiritual life. Always getting better and perfecting our little faults. And I thought that creating a challenge for myself would be the way to get ‘er done.
And His response: Come Closer to My Heart. Be in my family.
The sister of Jesus….
“Be My Little Sister.”
I put myself in the Holy Family. And I pointed out to my Jesus, “Um, I cannot exactly be the little sister in this scene, since You are the baby being born…”
So I thought of myself as the older sister and I was part of the Nativity scene…..yet interestingly, I still had my mama’s heart, since I AM a mother.
And here’s what surprised me: the pain.
I saw Mary holding her precious newborn, the long-awaited Savior, the King of Kings, and she felt incredible emotions: the exquisite joy and the piercing pain.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had the privilege of holding a newborn baby, but it has caught me off guard every time.
After I have given birth, I look upon the most amazing gift ever given. A new human being with an eternal soul. No one has ever seen this child before.
I think of the supreme potential within my little baby. I wonder about the path. I feel so excited for the journey. They are totally dependent on me for everything, and it’s then that this fierce, mama bear love surrounds me and the baby in my arms.
As Mary gazed on Her Son, she knew that He was born to die.
I had never before realized the joyful pain that Mary felt as she held the Savior.
I invite you. Get quiet. Open yourself.
How I love the exquisite moments of life, when we, for one brief moment, can stop the hustle and absorb something that is waaaay beyond us.
I started this Advent focused on becoming a better version of myself. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the invitation was clear:
“Be My Little Sister.”
PS: Here's the book I mentioned above :)