Last night, after a slew of crazy events and Dave and I taking turns being in and out of town, we finally got a chance to lug out all the Christmas decorations.

The remnants are still strewn across the kitchen.
I can’t seem to finish things off and get on to the next thing on my list because in the midst of putting on the finishing touches and doing a gazillion loads of laundry this morning our washing machine broke.

And then our sink disposal broke too…right after I poured a bunch of old macaroni and cheese in it.

Yep. All in one day.

Then tonight Lucy tried to walk up on stage as Elle and the entire 7th grade orchestra held their bows in ready position for the first song in the big Christmas concert. When I tried to cajole her down the stairs in front of the filled-to-the-brim audience in that high school auditorium she started to wail….and continued to let her sentiments be known as I dragged her out.

Oh man.

I’m trying to organize fourteen things coming up for Young Women, Claire has another UTI and my email box is still spilling over despite my valiant efforts. I can never find a phone to make calls on even though it seems to be ringing off the hook…

I haven’t started Christmas cards or Christmas shopping and my house is screaming to be organized.

But you know what? It’s Christmas and it’s strange because for some reason all that nutty stuff swirling on around me that usually fills me with stress can’t seem to phase me much. It’s like I have this iron armor on protecting me from it somehow.

Maybe it’s because I love my family even more today than I did yesterday.

Maybe it’s because I get to work with these amazing Young Women and through them I am seeing life from a different perspective.

Maybe it’s because Max read us one of my favorite Christmas stories (“Christmas Day in the Morning”by Pearl S. Buck) all curled up together yesterday after church.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been preparing for my Christmas lesson and it’s made me more aware than ever of the “Christ” part of the word “Christmas.”…and that when we serve others we truly serve Him.

Maybe it’s because I’m beginning to realize that life will still go on if I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and I’ll miss the richness of the moments that abound around me if I don’t slow down.

Last night I told Lucy and Claire they could be in charge of setting out our little nativity.
They have taken their job very seriously ever since and have re-arranged those figures multiple times.

Lucy took an immediate, hushed and reverent liking to Baby Jesus (not surprising with her love of figurines, and not surprising that it still turned my heart all mushy). She carried Him around all night making a sweet little “meow” kitten sound (don’t ask why because I’d like to know the same thing).

So of course today He is nowhere to be found.

Those poor shepherds and wise men are gathered around an empty manger:
But even though that manger is empty, He is here. I can feel Him in all that surrounds me this season. The air seems to be a little thicker and the stars seem to twinkle more beautifully and brilliantly than ever because I’ve shifted my focus from “Christmas” craziness to “Christ-mas” that is holy and calm. I know He lives. And I’m so thankful I get to celebrate His birth with those I love most dearly.

Of course, I can’t promise that sentiment will continue always because life seems to march on relentlessly with no time to pause, and my dear children still ignore me and there is a lot to be done. But I hope I can remember to make those pauses and remember what’s most important this season.

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  1. Shawn i love this SO much and I love you SO much and I wish I could be your secretary to go through all your emails and I think you are an INCREDIBLE woman and I am so prod to be your sister. miss you guys!!! go to Mexico so I can come babysit your kids 🙂 those young women are so so sew so lucky to have you. let's talk soon.

  2. You have an olive wood nativity! I love it! My grandparents brought some of those home when they went to Jerusalem, years ago, and I'm hoping to inherit one someday.

    It is hard trying to prioritize everything in December, isn't it? There are so many good things to do, so many things we feel obligated to do. Remember, New Year's greetings are just as much fun as Christmas ones….that's something you can totally procrastinate.

    My daughter's very first orchestra concert is this week. Unfortunately, it coincides with tithing settlement (which Dad has to help with) and the high school's concert of the Handel's Messiah, which she can get extra credit for attending. Much as I adore the Messiah, this means taking all the children with me to two back-to-back concerts, so we won't be home until 10 P.M. Sariah will go bananas…..and have a migraine the next morning. I think I need a babysitter for this one.

    Good luck to you!

  3. P.S. I did and for Christmas this year… (and of course a few Heritage Makers items) it saved me a TON of time. Of course, I do love the physical shopping but this year I just have too much on my plate, and this made me more available for other things. (Like taking my kids to the outdoor ice rink in downtown Raleigh tonight.)

    Come to think of it, this is the first time I've been so close to done with shopping by the 7th of December. Maybe I oughta do it this way every year!

  4. Baby Jesus always disappears at our house too. We know he is very loved and He is here. We have also found him after each of our eight children. It also means that I have a little one in the house and that brings joy. Have a wonderful Christmas and thank you for letting us peek into your beautiful crazy life!

  5. Don't worry about that missing Jesus….ours doesn't go in until late, late on Christmas eve. Either dh or I put Him in the nativity as we're on our way out the door to Mass and the children discover Him when they return from Mass.

    It sounds like even though you're swamped, you're in a good place to really enjoy the preparation for Christmas.

    God Bless!

  6. I just wanted to tell you thank you for sharing-my eyes filled with tears as your beared your testimony. We are so blessed to have this truth. Thank you! Great reminders!

  7. poor baby jesus! we lost a wise man and joseph from our little people set and was going to have to rope in some subs. but we found them under the couch! phew!

    half our tree is done! normally I'd have it all done before we went to bed but a new baby changes everything 🙂

    thank you for reminding us the true meaning of christmas. It's so easy to forget. hope you get a new washer and things fixed. I couldn't live without the washing machine for long!


  8. Love the meowing. Thanks for the reminder of what's important.

    I emailed you a couple of weeks ago about our daughter's having similarities in their medical conditions. I think I will be calling you in January 🙂 December is just too crazy.– Jen C.

  9. Thanks so much for telling us some things that are going wrong in your world. It makes you seem more human and we can all definately relate. I hope you find baby Jesus.

  10. Shawni-

    I am sure you must get this all the time but your blog is one of my absolute favorites to look at. I am a 21 year old, married, college student who one day hopes to aspire to be the kind of mother that you demonstrate throughout your posts, pictures, and small videos.I recently was at "Time Out For Women" in Salt Lake and was so impressed by you. Thank you for being a wonderful example of a mother.

  11. I'm not LDS. Maybe you do this too? We celebrate advent for 4 weeks. And there is a continuation of the Christmas season waiting for the 3 kings. Part of advent means looking forward to the birth and part of that means rejoycing in his arrival. What we often do is place out the figures one at time throughout advent with the last figure being baby Jesus on Christmas eve. If we have the wisemen they go out in January. Sometimes the creche is empty and then on Christmas eve all figures go in, minus the wisemen.

    Often our parish hands out to families a baggie with straw or hay inside the first day of advent. Each time a family member does a service for another member of the family they place one piece into the manger. It's a nice way for kids to visualize when they serve one another they are serving Christ. And a good way to visually see how often they are placing something in the manger.

  12. great ideas on putting Baby Jesus in on Christmas Eve. We'll have to try that if we find Him!

    And kms, I love the manger with straw idea…we do that too. I should put pictures on about that one.

  13. Loved this post.

    UTI's? I know you may already be aware of some of this stuff, but I'll throw it out there. I unfortunately have some experience also battling them. Cranberries and now blueberries (very recent studies have shown this) can help prevent them. There's a product called Cran-Actin that is Cranberry extract since drinking straight cranberry juice is pretty nasty…I think they even make a chewable version. And, last of all, there is a probiotic (beneficial bacteria) called Fem-Dophilus which helps prevent UTI's too…since they're often due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the urethra. You can read about it on Amazon but I'd try to buy it from a local store so it will be kept cool the whole time….our Whole Foods sells it. Just wanted to throw this out there in case you're ever looking for some other things to consider. Good luck with that.

    Merry Christmas.

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