Thursday, December 23, 2004

Let it Snow . . . just let it stop too!

We here in the Midwest are enjoying what looks to be the whitest Christmas we have had in years. Unfortunately the snow which looks so beautiful out the windows has drifted into mountains on our driveway and even with the snow blade on the tractor we (ha ha, mrangelmeg is out plowing, when I asked if I could be any help he laughed and said you can chear me on from the house, does this man know me well? I ask you?) mrangelmeg is having much trouble clearing the driveway of snow so that we can venture out.

I guess it was a good thing that we did all of our Christmas shopping early. Tonight we will celebrate our long-standing tradition of wrapping gifts for the kids. mrangelmeg will sit at the computer and surf the web while I wrap all of the gifts myself. I guess the tradition has been updated with the times, he used to sit and read the paper. No really, he does wrap one or two.

I do love the snow, especially for Christmas time. But, I am one of those snow lovers who would just as soon prefer that everything got nice and warm around January 2nd, and stayed in the mid to upper forties with periods of light rain for the rest of the winter. I don't think that will be the case this winter. We have already received more snow in the past two days than we received most of last winter. I expect snow covered roads and hillsides will be the rule rather than the exception this winter.

We did manage to get out on Wednesday evening for a few hours, and got some milk but the two stores we tried had no eggs. I guess we won't be doing much baking or having a traditional biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs breakfast on Christmas morning.

It just occurred to me that we had planned on going to someone else's house for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I didn't bother to buy anything to make traditional Christmas meals. "Woo hoo," I thought, "I don't have to cook anything this Christmas, what a gift for me."

I guess I had better see if I might be able to scrounge up a few meals from what we have in the freezer. I guess it will be potluck this Christmas. I suppose I can add Paprika to something to make it red at least.

Oh and God, as we gather together our little family (well the seven of us make a big family nowadays I suppose) together to celebrate the birth of Your only begotten Son, would you mind helping us out by not letting it snow anymore for a while. I love my kids, but if I have to spend another week cooped up with them I may go bonkers!


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Letters

To all my friends who sent Christmas Letters with their cards this year:

I don't need to hear about all the wonderful trips to exotic places that you took last year. I didn't even make it out of town when the tornado came through. Hearing about how wonderful your trip to see your college roommate who is married to a Viscount in Europe made me very sad, because I can only see my college roommate on visiting days at the peni-uh-rest home.

I don't need to hear about how amazing your children are. It really hurts to have to read about Junior's second PhD when we are struggling and praying that the third time will be the charm and our Junior will finally graduate from elementary school.

I don't need to hear about the wonderfully romantic gift you got from your husband for your anniversary. My husband only celebrates our anniversary if it is raining too hard to play golf and there is nothing on any sports channel.

And telling me that you finally had your entire house remodeled, complete with all new furniture is just mean spirited when you know that we are still cooking on the "avocado" stove that came with the house and our decorating scheme is early Salvation Army.

When I finally get the time (and everyone is off probation) I will try to come up with one of these Christmas letters myself. There must be something about my life that would make someone jealous to read about.

Happy Holidays


Friday, December 17, 2004

O Come O Come: Prepare Your Heart for the Indwelling

Today, we who celebrate our Christianity in the Catholic Tradition begin to meditate and pray an ancient prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Each day from now till December 23rd we focus on one image.

It may seem familiar to you even if you aren't Catholic, because the Christmas Carol O Come O Come Emmanuel is based on this ancient prayer. I offer you here the text we pray, thanks to New Advent Catholic Website.

December 17
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. "O Sapientia..."

December 18
O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen. "O Adonai..."

December 19
O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen. "O Radix Jesse..."

December 20
O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Clavis David..."

December 21
O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Oriens..."

December 22
O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen. "O Rex..."

December 23
O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen. "O Emmanuel..."


Sunday, December 12, 2004

True Joy of the Season

It is so hard to explain to non-Catholic Christians why we Catholics don't "celebrate" Christmas until December 24th and 25th. They don't see the point in our waiting and hoping and patience and restraint.

But we, who wait and hope know. We know that preparing our hearts is a very important part of receiving the Joy that will come. Anticipation of that joy is part of why we wait. How can one build up in anticipation if one is playing Christmas carols since before Thanksgiving? How can one build up the feeling of hopefulness if one decorates the entire house immediately.

My biggest question is: how can one celebrate the Greatest Gift given to human kind in just one day? And yet, the day after Christmas most people are thinking about taking down decorations and getting on with life. We Catholics celebrate Christmas as a Season. We have 12 days, from Christmas mornings till the Baptism of the Lord two weeks later. Each day of that two weeks we celebrate the gift of Emmanuel (God with us) in prayer and song in our liturgies and private devotions.

I can't imagine celebrating any other way. Beginning today, the Third Sunday of advent we will begin to decorate our houses, and our prayers will increase in the heightened anticipation of what is to come. And then on Christmas Eve at Midnight (in my mind the only way to celebrate Christmas) we sing wonderful carols of Joy and we pray for Peace on Earth and Good Will to All, just as the angels did at the Birth of our Lord.

So, In two weeks we will celebrate. Until then, we prepare our hearts and minds to receive the Gift we know has come. Emmanuel, God With us!!!


Friday, December 10, 2004

Sorry for the Silence

As most of you know, I am in Gradual School, and have been working pretty constantly on final assignments since before Thanksgiving, and haven't had much time to post.

I am nearly done with this semester. I am on the stretch run of my final paper, and should be happily free to post whenever I wish. I am so glad that this semester is nearly over. I have learned so much, not just general knowledge, but personal insights this semester that I would consider this one of the best semesters I have experienced in the year I have been in school. At the same time, this was also a semseter where I never quite felt as though my head stayed comforatbly above water very often. It is so hard to believe that I have only been in school since Last December!! It seems in many ways to have been so much longer a time.

There have been many other changes in my life lately, and I want to spend some of my "free time" in January and February to processing and posting about how I see God working in my life and the lives of those I love.

So, for those of you who bother to check back here from time to time. (all two of you, and you know who you are!) Expect to have more to read in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Simple Gifts

Have you noticed how much more society is becoming inundated with Christmas stuff so early in the year. The Halloween costumes are barely put away and already the stores are full of the next big Christmas fad. We decorate our houses inside and out and we even decorate ourselves with Christmas themed clothing from sox to pajamas to sweatshirts.

We are told to buy, buy, buy for our loved ones. Each year the gifts have to be bigger, better and more expensive than they were last year. How on earth did this season of simple giving become the consumerist paradise it is today?

If we look back at that first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were content with a warm place to lay their heads. The angels announced the birth of Jesus with heavenly light and song. And humanity received the greatest gift of all -- God's presence in the world in the form of a little baby born in a simple manger.

We need to think about these realities and balance them against the consumerism and materialism of this age. Why not consider giving someone your time instead of a gift? Offer to do small jobs around the house for a shut in or someone who has no family nearby. Bring lunch in to someone who might otherwise have to eat alone. This year instead of all those presents, why not give the simple gift of presence.