It's not that it wasn't adorable…because it was. I beamed, along with the hundreds of other parents packed like sardines in the auditorium, watching my festively dressed children sing their hearts out up on that big, big stage. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!" They belted out, all kind of on tune. There was also a funny rendition of the "Twelve Days of Christmas," which the third graders totally nailed. The title of the program was "A Tapestry of Traditions." They sang of dreidels and Santa Claus and Kwanza candles. They rapped about presents and snowballs and Winter fun. "Good job, guys!" I told my own little performers as we walked to the van and headed for home.
I'd be lying, however, if I said it didn't ache a little to sit through an entire holiday concert devoted to the traditions woven in and around this season of celebration yet never once mentioned a manger..or virgin mother…or newborn king.
Tonight, after teeth were brushed and jammies were donned, I snuggled my babies and serenaded them as they fell asleep:
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
My dear ones, yes I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Holy Christmas, a peaceful, redemptive, healing, joy-infused, heart-purifying Nativity!
I will see you back here in 2012, God willing!
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Do You have a reflection on Birth? I'd love to see it! Leave a link to your site in the comment section below.Read More
“Alone I stare into the frost’s white face”
By Osip Madelstam
TRANSLATED BY John High and Matvei Yankelevich
January 16, 1937
We had the whole place to ourselves. It was a little eerie seeing no other cars in the parking lot. It turns out December is not the most popular month for zoo visiting. Go figure!
Luckily I didn't get any "runners" in my group. I've had runners before, at the Children's museum in fact. Runners aren't keen on waiting around for slowpokes. Not when there's so many fancy and educational displays to sprint through, and time is a wastin'. No, on Tuesday it was just me and three little walking, adorable, map enthusiasts.
Together we navigated our way through balmy swamps, stinky primate houses (I was always quick to suggest indoor activities), hands-on discovery zones but not the butterfly exhibit. My youngest child has a newly formed phobia of butterflies apparently. This was disappointing to hear, because the butterfly exhibit was also inside and it was c-o-l-d cold out.
Kindergartners are comical and refreshingly free of inhibitions. "I think I will probably marry you, Mary," a little classmate matter of factly announced to my daughter on the bus. To which she responded, "Say cheeeese, and make a weird face! I'm taking your picture with my mom's cell phone!!!" He did. They laughed hysterically, then went on to tell each other a series of Knock Knock jokes with nonsensical punch lines.
"Mary's Mom!" they call me, usually followed by, "This one time…. (I rode a roller coaster, met Santa Claus, scraped my knee, ate turkey, had a loose tooth, etc.)." They are full of facts (some less accurate than others) and anecdotes and contagious vibrancy.
This was what I wanted, now that all four of my kids are in school: to be a part of that school experience, to be regularly seen there, to know their classmates by name.
Not all my kids are as hungry for my presence there as Mary is, however. It gets trickier as they get older, knowing when to back off and when to step in. It turns out parents who choose to be all up in their kids' business have to learn to thicken their skin. Yes, this was what I wanted, this is what is needed, but it certainly hasn't been easy. Tough love is tough on everyone involved.
I'm learning as I go.
On the long ride home I was squished by an exhausted six-year-old draped across my lap and Mary with her head on my shoulder. At least half of the children fell asleep within minutes. A few moms snuck a nap in as well.
It can be tiring, all that discovering and navigating of new territory.
But also enlightening and strengthening if you can pace yourself, forgive yourself when you lose it and lean heavily on God's mercy. The day in front of you is always the perfect day for starting over.Read More
Come, St. Nicholas! Restore unto me the joy of giving and of anticipating Christ's birth!
Tis' the season for getting easily swept up into the mayhem of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, early bird sales… into the fuss and expense of more stuffity stuff stuff. Oh Target, why do you taunt me so with your aisles full of tantalizing trinkets and prettys and shiny electronics?
I'm awfully darn hungry for some substance – for Truth I can sink my teeth into. Like this, which we sang at vespers tonight:
O good and faithful worker in the vineyard of Christ,
you endured the hardships of daily labors;
you did not complain of those who worked less than you.
You increased the talent given you.
Therefore, the gates of heaven opened to you, and now you share in the joy of the Lord.
O holy Nicholas, pray for us!
Pray that I too might become more generous, industrious, humble, joy-filled, more aware of the needs around me this Advent, our Beloved St. Nicholas.
Thank you for your example.
Do you have photos or a reflection on St Nicholas to share? Please leave a link to your site in the comment section below. Next week's The Way I See It Theme will be: WhiteRead More
Thanks to Beth for posting this on her blog. I've been pondering it for days now.
My Priscilla came downstairs this morning with a grimace on her face and her head cocked to the side. She'd fallen asleep last night in an awkward position and now sharp stabs of pain race down her neck when she tries to straighten it. Stiff necks are frustrating as all get out so I certainly empathized with her tears, even calling the school to say she'd be staying home with me today; It's no secret I'm a softie. What pleasantly surprised me, however, was the response of her three siblings to the mysterious ailment causing their sister to whimper through breakfast with her noggin askew. Only moments earlier they'd been at it as usual, bickering over any and everything under the sun, then just like that, they were buzzing with concern. "Will Prissy be ok, mama?" cried Mary. "I'll tell her teacher what happened!" offered Ben. "No, don't!" interrupted Elijah, "She'll make you bring Priscilla's homework to her." Gasp! There wasn't a "That's not faiiiir! You didn't let me stay home when _________ (fill in the blank)!" to be heard.
They fight hard, my sons and daughters, what with their four humongous personalities continuously vying for their indivual reasonings and ideas to be embraced by all. They annoy the heck out of each other, and their arguing can drive me batty – up a wall, I tell you. But on the flip side, I've been reminded, when one of their own is down, the other three swoop into action. See, they love hard too. And isn't that just the most realistic thing any of us could hope for? Though we will inevitably rub each other the wrong way sometimes, because we're human like that, when it comes down to it may we instinctively rush to raise each other up if tragedy or sadness or disappointment strikes.
Love is easy when we see eye-to-eye, but becomes divine, authentic, when we automatically jump in, without strings attached or caveats, and serve our hurting neighbors – regardless of their varying viewpoints, lifestyles and opinions. Action. It's all about action. Way less talk, much more action. Eucharist fed Love as unconditional action blesses my being with meaning; there is hands down nothing more satisfying. It fills my emotional bucket and your bucket simultaneously. It's the only real medicine (believe me, I've swallowed plenty 0f placebos!) that brings legitimate healing to my ailing soul.
someone's house. That says enough.