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Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Reason for the Season

I am, this morning, trying to get my head wrapped around what happened yesterday in Tucson.

While our family gathered to celebrate Little Christmas, we were 'tuned into' each other and 'tuned out' the rest of the world.

We had made it through the snow and ice to be together - the longest trip was four hours and 20 minutes. One of our sons in law took his truck with a snowplow on the front and made sure the neighbors were plowed out.

He's such a good man.

We opened presents while we munched on all sort and manner of cheeses and humus and crackers and such.

The children were all pretty well behaved, owing, perhaps, to the fact that they had already had their "Big Christmas".

This was "Little Christmas" after all. All the joy and excitement but half the hysteria and chaos.

The adults, on the other hand . . .. .

Well, Christmas brings out the "little kid" in all of us.

That seems especially true the bigger we get.

After the blur of torn wrapping paper and exclamations of excitement and joy, we sat down to eat a fabulous spread of food.

Then, we caught up with each other - small conversations in the kitchen or at the table or in the living room. Much better than Facebook. Much better, indeed!

Of course, some of us watched the NOLA Saints and the Seattle Seahawks play football. I was rooting for the Saints, of course, but was sorely outnumbered.

What's not to love about the Saints? (Can you hear me, Grandmere Mimi?)

Pity they lost.

Others of us got a little creative with the gifts we were given.

Here, our youngest granddaughter practices the ancient technique of the 'chasmophile'. In biology, the word means 'thriving or dwelling in rock crevices, chinks, fissures, crannies, and chasms'.

Not too long ago, she got into the cage where her oldest sister's bunny lives. It took a few minutes and not a few hysterical tears to get her out, but apparently she hasn't lost her desire to curl up into small places that are actually designed and intended for other purposes.

The delight of my heart came when our youngest grandchild, a delightfully serious and methodical child, even at age 3, used his new scooter - in the form of an "Elmo Fly Me Airplane" - to transport various toy trucks and buses from the play room into the dining room. There, he very carefully lined them up against the glass door which had been closed to keep the dogs in the kitchen and away from interfering with the festivities.

I began to realize that there was a reason for all his work. He was forming a barricade against the door to insure that the dogs would, in fact, stay away from him and his other siblings and cousins.

After he had lined up the last toy truck, he stood up, pointed his finger at the dogs who stood soulfully looking through the glass and said, in a stern voice that belied his young years, "OUT!"

It's not that he was afraid of the dogs - although one of them has an especially long, enthusiastic and hard to control tail. He just wanted to make sure that they didn't intrude on our holiday fun.

It was his job which he defined and took on for himself. Such a brave little man.

My favorite moment came when I saw two girl cousins heading off to the play room, all hustle and bustle and focused energy. I called after them, "Look at these two beautiful girls!"

The younger one smiled at me and said, as if to explain it all, "We're related, you know."

Yes, yes, my darlings. I know. We're all related. In ways that you haven't yet begun to comprehend.

My heart is a jumble of emotions this morning. Joy and gratitude for my family which warms the inner recesses of my heart and my soul. Shock and horror about what has happened in the human family and to the heart and soul of this country, as recently made manifest in the shootings in Phoenix.

Sometimes, you know, there is such ugliness and evil in the world, it makes me cry out in anguish. And other times, there is such beauty as to stop my heart and cause me to gasp in utter and complete awe.

Both experiences can send me running directly into the arms of Jesus for comfort and solace as well as to share my unspeakable joy and gratitude.

Meanwhile, we live out our lives of faith, balancing ourselves - our minds and bodies, our hearts and souls - between these two realities.

And, in the middle of it all, providing both ballast and perspective, is the Incarnation.

We lose that center at our own peril.


The Religious Pícaro said...

I think your tradition of Little Christmas is wonderful. Christmas Day itself is loaded down with too man expectations sometimes, not all of them attainable. Little Christmas seems a way to take some of the weight off of Big Christmas, as it were.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

It really is wonderful, Bill. I wouldn't change it for the world.

it's margaret said...

Bless you.

Paul Powers said...

The moderators of Anglicans Online suggested several years ago that instead of trying to go against the securalization of Christmas (which is becoming an increasingly lost cause) that Christians put more emphasis on celebrating the Epiphany. Aside from not being commercialized, it also has the advantage of not being associated with winter, so it works just as well in all hemispheres.

By the way, the shootings yesterday were in Tucson, not Phoenix.

wv: dholly (enough with the Christmas imagery already!)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Paul. I didn't know that about that suggestion. I think it's a good one. However, I'm not holding my breath until it catches on.

Thanks. I knew that about Tucson. I changed it. It's south and west of RI, right? that's why I got confused.

Paul Powers said...

It's south and west of RI, right?

That reminds me of the story of the couple from Boston who told a friend about their trip across the country. When asked whether they took the northern route or the southern route, they replied, "We went via Dedham."