Friday, December 16, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 29)

Being Truly Present Though we hear it over and over each year, that the time, love, and energy we share with others is most valuable, we so often get caught up in the consumerism and craziness that this time of year encourages in our world.  Don’t take the bait.  Check out this message and video for inspiration to stay focused on what truly matters most: God’s Presence and our presence.         


Thanksgiving Redo As some of you may recall, Kevin and I managed to miss not one, not two, but three different Thanksgiving dinners this year because we were sick.  We have some wonderful friends who didn’t get to celebrate Turkey Day together with the traditional fare.  Laura and her husband Jeff hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at their home this past Monday evening that was absolutely delicious, positively delightful, and at times, downright hilarious.  Okay, so the food was delectable, but the company made for some unbridled laughter.  Thanks, God,  for friends who have become family! 

Music, Signs, and Saying Goodbye Wednesday morning, I took Vivi to the daycare where Laura, a friend of mine I first met when I was in fifth grade at St. Mary School many years ago who now goes to the same parish we attend, works so we could watch her last concert with the kids there before she moves on to other pursuits.  She was fighting back tears as she said goodbye to her students and their parents.  hough we had to slip out before we got to give her a hug, she stopped by on her way home to let us know how much our presence had meant to her.  She said she also really appreciated that I understand how difficult goodbyes can be, especially when they involve children you’ve come to care for deeply.       
     This is an excerpt from Laura’s FB status that evening: “… I was reminded recently…that teaching is so very personal. I am the vessel to inspire thinking and learning and questions. I offer myself to my kids. Regardless of their age or the material we are exploring together, it is a personal journey. And I find that the more vulnerable, honest and present I am, the more I risk embarrassment... the more memorable and successful the learning.”


To Listen and Be Someone who understands… The gifts of active listening, genuine concern, and true compassion are some of the most valuable ones we can offer one another.  I have a hard time describing how loved I feel when someone cares enough to listen to what I’m thinking and feeling, asks questions, clarifies, and shows that they want to walk with me even when my journey is leading me through a dark valley or a foggy forest.  Lord, help us to be better listeners, so that You are able to work in and through us to love others and bring forth the light and hope of Your Presence within them.   


Excellent Advent Advice Reflection Series

Part I: Stay Awake 
Part II: Seek Him Who Seeks You
Part III: Hold on to Hope
Part IV: Celebrate the Season
Part V: Rejoice and Be Glad!  “Sometimes life is pure joy!” is what’s written on one of the mugs at my mom’s house with a drawing of Snoopy dancing on the front.  When I was a baby, my Godmother Marcy decided I looked a bit like Snoopy’s fine feathered sidekick, Woodstock, because my hair would stick straight up, so that was one of my nicknames back then.  We had some really fun times as kids.
     When I think of pure, unbridled joy, I often think of children at play, singing, dancing, running, laughing, exploring nature…


Santa Claus Is Coming to Town?   A couple weekends ago our priest gave a sermon that included a reflection on the lyrics of the seasonal song he likes the least: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  He doesn’t have a problem with the concept of Santa, who of course was inspired by Saint Nicholas, but he does find some verses of the well-known song to be a rather misleading. 
     “He’s making a list and checking it twice; He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…
      He sees you when you’re sleeping.  He knows when you’re awake.
      He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.
      Oh, you better watch out.  You better not cry.  You better not pout, I’m telling you why…”
     Upon closer examination, this seemingly inane song, sounds rather creepy.  Do we really want kids thinking that some stalker Santa is watching their every move? Does it make sense to make a bigger deal over having our kids go sit on some stranger’s lap and tell him what we want for Christmas than to marvel at the circumstances and love implied by Christ’s birth?  Yikes, let’s hope not!
     An article titled “The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists,” by Amy Henry is an interesting look at the role of Santa, God, and children’s behavior reflect what parents teach and how kids perceive things. 
     Interestingly enough, I spent many years thinking of God as more of a harsh judge or stalker Santa making a list of everything I did wrong.  I’m grateful that our God is a just God, but also the One who is love and mercy itself.  If someone’s going to watch my every move, then I’d prefer it be someone who loves me unconditionally.


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!  Last night, we gathered at my mom’s house to enjoy  one of our favorite home-cooked meals as a family,  then decorate the Christmas tree.  This year Mom and Theresa were the only ones who went to get the tree.  Yet again, we have a really nice live tree decorated with little colored lights.  With Christmas music playing and while sipping on cups of hot tea, we began pulling out the ornaments from a number of boxes.  Our favorites to put on the tree are those we’ve made over the years, store bought ones that we’ve hung on our tree since we were little, and those with a certain sentimental value.  Mom brought out a few of the Christmas photo collages she’d made a while back.  For me, seeing the pictures surfaced some of the more difficult memories I have from Christmas past.  Suffice it to say that we rarely, if ever, had a Hallmark holiday.  Our family’s been through quite a lot over the years, yet some of our most treasured traditions have remained the same. 
     What are your favorite memories of celebrating Christmas when you were a kid?  Who’s someone for whom the holidays might be lonely or particularly difficult this year?  What will you do to bring them some holiday cheer?   

Head over to Conversion Diary, to read Jen Fulwiler's wonderful tradition of 7 Quick Takes Friday.
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