Halloween decorations still up and a wet sock on the tree: Advent is off to a rollicking start at the Fulwiler house

Advent is usually a season of fail for me. High expectations collide with low estimates of how many free hours I actually have in a day, and the result is lot of staring at Instagram in despair as I convince myself that everyone else gets an A+ for their holiday celebrations and I get an F.

This year I decided to take the approach of setting my expectations much, much lower. I’d say it’s going well.


We don’t have a single decoration on the tree, unless you count the wet sock that my son set on there to dry, but I consider it a win that we have a tree at all. I feel like a champion compared to the year that Yaya had to take matters into her own hands and throw a Douglas fir on our doorstep.

I was going to take down the Halloween ghost lights that send my neighbors the very clear message that I can’t deal with life, but then awesome people on Facebook pointed out that they look like Christmas bells so I decided to leave them up.


I had big plans to celebrate St. Nicholas Day this year, and then I took one look at our shoe corner and realized that St. Nicholas would die if he rolled up to this house with his bag of coins and candy and encountered this mess.


(Also, it is not particularly appetizing to imagine eating goodies that have been sitting in some of our third-generation hand-me-down footwear.)

Advent is off to its usual fail-ridden start around here, but I have to say, I feel pretty good about it. I feel good because there’s one big thing that I am finally tackling right now: the clutter.

With eight people living in the same three-bedroom house for the better part of a decade, most of them children, it was starting to feel like I was in a horror movie where a nefarious army of stuffed animals and half-naked Barbies slowly take over a house.

It was time for a bold move, so we did something crazy:

We asked for help. We hired a professional organizer.

I was skeptical that having someone like that come to the house would make a difference, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. To have someone else push forward the decluttering process drastically reduces not just the physical energy I have to expend, but the mental energy as well.


For fellow organizing nerds, here are a couple of before and afters:



(I’m pretty much ready to hire a live-in professional organizer.)

I still don’t have the tree decorated, and we’re about four days behind on opening the Advent calendar, but I’m okay with that. I think I’m finally at a place of spiritual confidence where I can say:

There are ghost lights on my front door and a sock drying on my tree and I’m spending more time working with a professional organizer than baking ginger bread cookies, but this is what Advent needs to look like for us this year.

I hope you’re having a great Advent that is exactly what you need as well!

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On another note — I release a free podcast with highlights from my radio show each week. You can look it up by searching for The Jennifer Fulwiler Show on iTunes or on your favorite podcasting app. Here’s the latest episode (click here if you don’t see a player below):

P.S. If you want to know what I’m up to right now, come say hi on Facebook, Instagram (@jenniferfulwiler), or Twitter (@jenfulwiler)!

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