Pressure Cooking

It's on.  I'm officially in "Holiday mode" and I'm beginning to have the spasms in my stomach -and Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet!!  Oh the pressure.
Pressure to have the perfect turkey.  Pressure to be a fantastic hostess.  Pressure to bake the best goodies.  Pressure to have the cutest Christmas decorations. Pressure to be funny, well-dressed, and smiling.  Pressure to buy/make that perfectly thoughtful gift.  Pressure to at least act like you enjoy your family.  Pressure to make this the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Where does all that pressure come from?  Why, myself of course.   It comes from internet stories, magazine spreads, crafting books, tv ads, and retail stores.  I allow all of that to ingratiate itself into my being, deciding that I need those things to make my holidays brighter, funner, and enjoyable.  All the while, usually, barking orders to the boys, getting overtired, fighting with my husband, and sleeping fitfully as I run through the shopping list in my head.

We, moms in particular, allow a myriad of pressures dealing with our jobs.  We do take in a fair amount of advice and manipulate it to the benefit of our own unique families.   Usually, we are able to keep it in check, recognizing our own special abilities and being satisfied with who and what we are.  Usually.  But then comes the holidays with all the added sparkle, glitter, and glue guns.  

Since I use them often, I have quite a few books on pressure cookers.  They all stress the importance of attention and care for a pressure cooker; proper procedures, careful filing, attentive watching, quick action.  Yet, when it comes to external human pressure, we just let it go.  and go.  and go. until that fateful moment when the pop flies off and steam is filing the air, ruining both the stuff inside and potentially harming the outside surroundings.  There's a 1-800 number and website for turkey emergencies - a call line or chat line with people available for those quick questions such as "what do I do when my turkey is still frozen?" (take-out).  So, where's my call in line for those quick questions such as "what do I do when my kid (helpfully) opened the powdered sugar and it popped out of his hand, flying powder all over the kitchen?"  (probably not yell like a madwoman and kick everyone out)

How lucky am I, then when I remember I DO have a 1-800 number.  In fact, I have many:  They are Mass,  Adoration, reading the Bible, calling my girlfriends in Christ.  It's amazing when you turn to God how much actually gets done and done well.  You may lose some things on that list, but they weren't important things anyway as long as you have consulted the Holy Spirit before tackling that list.  There is joy in the preparation.  The seasoned mommies know what the new mommies are discovering:  kids forget the perfectly browned turkey or that perfect centerpiece, but they remember the advent wreath catching fire and the cookie sprinkles bouncing across the floor. 

So, as the green, red, and sparkly silver twinkle in the displays and homes are serenaded by Bing Crosby, I pray that each of you carefully read your particular pressure cooker instructions.  Take it easy.  Warm up slowly, fill it up well, put the proper cap on, watch carefully, and when the steam begins to come out, turn it down.

Prayer While Shopping During Advent

Dear God, as I look through my gift shopping list,
I hold up to you each person listed on it.
Slowly, one by one,
I ask that the fire of your abundant love burn within each of them.
I pray that the gift I find for each person
will bring joy into that life.

But, help me to keep a balance this season, Lord.
Let me keep my buying in perspective,
not to spend more than I need to or can afford.
Let me not give in to the pressures of this world
and not equate love with money spent.
Let me always remember the many, many people
who have so much less in material things.
Help me to buy wisely,
so that my choices will not burden those in other countries
who are so deeply affected by this country's economy.

And finally, loving God,
help me to find time in the frantic moments of each day
to become centered on you.
Walking through a store,
driving town to town,
hurrying down a street:
let each of these times be moments
when I can remember your incredible love for me
and rejoice in it.



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