How to Stop Feeling Like a "Failure" and Stay Focused This Advent

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The third week of Advent has just begun, and many of us are probably looking forward to the ‘climax’ of this season — Christmas!

Some of us, though, may be feeling a bit down this Advent, because we think we have been failing at keeping traditions, like the Advent Wreath, or other ways to prepare for Christmas.

I know I’ve been feeling that way lately, because the busyness of the season, plus the kids’ scheduled activities and my work deadlines, have been getting the best of me. So I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for you, our dear readers.

Our family has our own set of Advent traditions, but I am a bit ashamed to admit that we haven’t been as consistent with them this year, compared to previous years.

Instead of focusing on our failures though, I am choosing to focus on our little “triumphs”, and invite you to do the same.

Here is what I’ve been trying to do, to prevent myself from feeling like a “failure” this Advent:

1. Remember that Jesus is the Reason for the season, and help our kids do the same, too. 

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Traditions like the Advent Wreath and Jesse Tree are there to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, and to help us prepare for Jesus’ coming.

However, if trying to keep up with them — and failing to do so — makes us feel more stressed than blessed, maybe it’s time to stop and remember the why behind everything we’re doing.

Pause, reflect, pray and then keep on going. Light those Advent candles, pray those Advent prayers, read those Jesse Tree readings, and maybe even start a new tradition, like the Simbang Gabi, which begins on December 16 (or 15, depending on your parish.)

And, hey, if you haven’t done any Advent-related activities at all, don’t sweat it — you’ve still got more than a week to make up for it!

2. Rejoice in the “little things.” 

If I am able to read aloud at least one of our Advent/Christmas-themed books a day to the kids, I rejoice.

If we are able to do the Jesse Tree reading and reflection for the day, I rejoice.

If we are able to get at least one Christmas gift wrapped a day, I rejoice.

If we are able to pray together around our Advent wreath more than once a week, I rejoice.

If we are able to do one simple Advent and/or Christmas-themed craft before December 25, I will ecstatically rejoice! (And yes, I know that sounds redundant.)

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A simple Advent Wreath craft my kids did last year. I got the instructions here.

Rejoice in these little “victories” this Advent, and celebrating Christmas will be so much more sweeter for you, and your family, too.

3. Relinquish control over what you don’t have complete control of.

In other words, learn to let go. As a self-confessed “control freak,” this can be quite challenging for me. I need to make sure that everything is in order, and that every single detail of our plans and traditions are in place.

However, with all that’s been going on this Advent, I’m learning (yet again) that I can’t control everything. So I need to be flexible and learn to adjust — or else, I’ll probably go crazy!

Let go and let God… let Him lead you and your family during the remaining days of the Advent season — to the manger, where Christ the Child was born.

After all, at the end of of the day, Advent and Christmas is all about Him. It’s all about celebrating His birth — and indirectly, His life, death and resurrection as well. And aren’t we ever so glad and blessed that it is so?

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One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions: Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus on December 25, complete with a birthday cake, of course!

How has your Advent been so far? Let’s encourage one another in the comments!

Copyright 2014 Tina Santiago Rodriguez

Image credits: Nativity scene image by digidreamgrafix | FreeDigitalPhotos.net / Jesse Tree ornaments image from TheLearningBasket.com (used with permission)

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About Author

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a Catholic wife and home educating mom by vocation, and a writer and editor by profession. Among her different roles, she believes that her most important “work” is to be a helpmate to her husband, and to raise her kids to be “Kingdom-Seekers.” Find out more about Tina through her website: Truly Rich and Blessed.

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