Happy Christmas

Screen Shot 2013-12-25 at 12.52.42 AM

In years past I’ve left a Christmas Carol here for you, or maybe, my favorite clip from A Charlie Brown Christmas — you know the one -Linus reciting the story of the Nativity of Our Lord.

When my kids were very tiny, we used to tell them the story of Christmas using the sturdy resin nativity set we had. The kids would play with the pieces, marching the Magi across the living room, placing the ass and the cow in the makeshift stable we created. They’d move Joseph and Mary throughout the living room, too, until they found the manger and Jesus was born! And the little lambs, with the iconic shepherd carrying a tiny lamb on his back, were always placed near the front, close to the baby Jesus.

One year when one of our kids was months old, John and I actually participated in a live nativity at our parish.

When the kids were older, we read from the Gospel of Luke, and then eventually, they’d read it themselves. Did you ever wonder what was going on in Bethlehem outside the stable? They often asked.

This year, Elizabeth Scalia has given us a beautiful insight into what that moment might have been like. From the frightening sounds of the unknown in the night, to the raw reality of a shepherd’s life, to the tender invitation to come closer. Because really, isn’t that what Christ wants from us? For us to come closer?

Read this moving story…it starts with the shepherd tending to a wounded sheep, and then, it explodes with amazing imagery:

My little cousin and I watch as my uncle washes away the blood, and examines the wound. He is making that odd breathless noise—halfway between a gasp of surprise and a sigh of regret—that he always makes when an attack has been thwarted. My uncle, after all, is nearly forty; an old man long past the charms of making his bed upon the chill earth at night; disenchanted with stargazing while wolves in the dark distance howl, or creep in silence, just beyond our sight.

Read the rest of Elizabeth Scalia’s “A Shepherd I Will Remain” here. It will become a classic story you’ll want to share. I promise.

.

on fire for Christmas!

photo-10

 

How’s your Advent been?

I’ve had one of the calmest, slowest (in a good way), simplest Advents in a very long time. An Advent filled with prayer and holy reading. An Advent that has touched me in moving ways I couldn’t have anticipated. In short, it’s been a month of such peace and quiet in my heart and soul that I hate to see it go.

John and I have been taking turns reading from Lisa Hendey’s O Radiant Dawn and enjoying, so far, 21 candlelit dinners. It’s been a lovely way to slow down in the evenings, especially in a time in our lives when it would have been easier to take dinner in the living room while watching The X-Factor.

I do believe that the discipline of using a prayer resource, together, contributed to the overall simplicity of this season.

Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a little drama in there. I did set fire to the Advent wreath today. We were just having a nice brunch…the usual, some eggs, a little bacon, some tasty home fries.

And then the conversation got a little weird, even for us.

John: Is there water in that vase with the tree cuttings?

Me, pleased with my amazing Pinterest-inspired creativity: Nope, I used those pretty, clear little stones.

John: I think it’s burning.

So, I set fire to the Advent wreath.

Yeah. That.

Don’t worry, all is well. I’m just saying that book should carry a warning label.

20131222_164020

 

 

 

.

 

distractions, distractions

The kitchen is cozy, and the coffee pot is right there, so I sat down to work on a writing project.

But this was my view.

after

So is the advent calendar and a stack of wrapping needs. And Christmas cookies.

Silly me. I had to improve the view to get back into the groove.

photo-10

Um, after I posted this, of course 🙂

in which I ponder adverbs

Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 8.20.52 PM

A friend of mine gave me a poster at the beginning of Advent that has a list of adverbs on it.

That’s all, just adverbs.

It’s a pretty funny thing. I mean, what do adverbs have to do with Advent? I think if you reflect on these words in light of our yearning for the coming of Christ, you might just get it.

I’ve been pondering the words myself, so I added a few of my own, and created what we boring old English teachers call a Concrete Poem.

You probably call it a Wordle.

What adverbs would you add?

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord

For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

.

7 Quick Takes Friday: Christmas!

Check out the collection of other 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, hosted at Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog, Conversion Diary

–1–

My Macbook broke a few weeks ago and I had finals and other things that kept me from the Apple store. I discovered that I really really really like my laptop. Does that make me shallow?

–2–

I turned in my grades on Monday, did some stuff at work, and came home to my Christmas vacation. My dear hubby had taken care of the Christmas shopping for our kids, so I hadn’t gone shopping yet, unless you count the office secret santa….Anyway, it was absolutely refreshing to not have that stress of hitting malls although I did eventually get around to it on Wednesday. Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

–3–

On Tuesday I went on a crazy road trip with Christy to Augusta to get a fishing reel repaired. Don’t ask — I rarely need an excuse for an adventure — and what an adventure we had.

–4–

We discovered the Sacred Heart Cultural Center, which is absolutely beautiful. I posted a bunch of pictures here, but the one I included in this post is my favorite and isn’t in the slide show. I took it on my phone because I was taken by the sight. The church is desanctified (which makes me so sad) and I was caught by surprise to walk out into this giant open space and see the beauty of that window. There are some close ups on the slide show, but what I really liked about this picture is that the sun beams illuminate the whole space. I’ve been thinking an awful lot about Mary’s fiat, captured in this beautiful image of the Annunciation, so it was a double treat to encounter this lovely scene.

–5–

This is a picture of my fireplace. Why is it empty, you ask? Because it’s 70 degrees. I am not in Miami, but there’s a hurricane outside, and John turned on the air conditioning. On the first day of winter. Air conditioning. Maybe I’ll fill it with poinsettias.

–6–

My honey gave me an early Christmas present! It was berry good!

–7–

I didn’t wait. (and  shared!)

Merry Christmas!

.

Is Best Buy’s tacky Santa Ad worth a blog rant?

 

Maybe a small rant. Mostly because I already detest Best Buy and really have no interest in purchasing their over-priced electronics. I’m also pretty done with the poor customer service and the general obnoxiousness of Christmas shopping. To wit, the absurdity of the Black Friday insanity. Disgusting displays of man’s inhumanity to man.

It started when we stopped wishing each other Merry Christmas.

I’m only half-serious about that statement. The serious half wants to know…when did this happen? Look, I’m not even going to make this about religion.  Christ has always been in my Christmas, although I admit there were sad years when he wasn’t getting the attention he deserved.

But this rant is about Santa…we’ve already effectively taken Christ out of Christmas. In fact, we’ve taken God out of just about everything. Marriage. School. Thanksgiving. Our currency.

Why wouldn’t a snarky ad campaign dissing Santa be game?

There’s a lot to criticize. There’s the whole treatment of Santa, for one. As a cultural icon, he’s representative of a number of virtues. We could get into the whole origins story with St. Nicholas, but let’s keep it simple. Santa, he of the reindeer and North Pole and friendly elves. He’s a good guy. He works tirelessly to spread joy.

And those good guys… They get picked on. Discredited. Ridiculed. Crucified. (oops. I forgot I was keeping this about Santa)

It’s open season in our culture to laugh at and ridicule the very values that have made this society great. It’s shameful, especially when it happens from the top, down. Did you happen to see the mockery our president made of the annual turkey pardon on Thanksgiving? Oh sure, it was edgy and funny. It’s only a turkey. Or is it?

Here’s the thing. I really don’t care about Santa. Not really. And I don’t care about a turkey getting pardoned or not. But I do care about the bigger picture, whether it’s a myth about goodness and generosity or a symbol of the nation. When both of those can come under fire, we’re doing it wrong as a culture.