The mad dash to Christmas is ON. Full throttle.
And I'm not dashing. I might not even send a Christmas letter this year.
Well. Who are we kidding? I will send a letter. It's the OCD. I have to have a complete record of Christmas cards to give to my daughters-in-law on their wedding days. God alone knows why. It's no tradition I've ever encountered.
My letter will be different this year, as are all things.
Seven times in my life, I've experienced a paradigm shift. My world view shifted so drastically each time and I was reborn. The seventh is still in progress.
Two events dramatically ignited rebirth. The first was our bus accident in 1997. The second was my mother's disappearance in 2008. Both those incidents were abrupt and shocking and heinous. Both had lasting impact. Both changed -- forever -- how I define myself.
And, you know? I'm not sure where the story ends or what characters people the landscape for the duration, but I am sure I like the direction I'm heading.
To lift a phrase from my favorite song, "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin, "Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won; He is risen from the dead. And I will rise, when He calls my name."
I believe those words. The victory IS won and when He calls my name and asks me to account for me, I will rise. I will account. I will rest in Christ's love. I recognize that's a little redemptive for the Advent season, but -- seriously -- we all know where the story ends.
Still, I'm not sure I will ever stop talking about events that shape me. That's okay; my love language is WORDS. I am compelled to use words.
It's good to use words. While I honor the requests of friends to keep their secrets, it is in secret that sin is born, and I don't feel like keeping secrets of my own anymore. So, I won't. My propensity for Truth may be uncomfortable for some people. God bless them.
My greatest Truth this year is that I am appalled by how Americans celebrate Christmas. It's an orgy of food and consumerism and greed.
None of that interests me or my children.
I lie. The food interests them greatly. They are growing boys, after all.
Gifts. I wish with all my heart that not a single person would give me one this year. Instead, I wish they would look for someone who really, really needs and give. I would never dishonor a gift-giver though -- especially those who give me gifts of the heart.
The stories I hear about Black Friday appall me. People standing in line for hours and then rushing through the doors like animals, shoving and yelling. People running with cartloads of products. People arguing with others over items that won't matter a year from now.
Christmas, for me, hides in the little things: the exchange of peace with my immediate family at the Christmas Mass when both of my sons -- and this year my daughter -- wrap their arms around me and we exchange the kiss of peace; the delight my sons take in finding a SINGLE gift that will make me laugh with joy in knowing they are gift-givers; the warmth of love between my spouse and I as we celebrate Christ with our family.
And, I would be keeping a secret if I didn't mention my GREAT, great joy in the one entire day each year my entire family spends at home together. Since it's January 27th, I'm hoping it's a tradition that endures!
So, as the mad dash to Christmas continues, I focus on the three things that most matter to me: faith, family, and friends.