To all my readers: I thank you for sticking by me through my willy-nilly posts all month. I don't like to neglect you all, particularly during the month of December, a month of joyful hope and controlled chaos which generated a ton of bloggable stuff that never made its way into cyberspace.
Every year I'm surprised by how much weaker my dollars are than they were the year before, even though every year I have more of them to spend. I'm always amazed at how much faster the clock hands spin and the calendar pages flip--I feel like I just got used to writing 2010, only to start all over again next week with 2011. I consider how much simpler my Christmas wishes are, and how much more complicated they are. I contemplate how much I've grown in my faith, and how far away I am from the mountaintop.
I'll be home for Christmas, you can plan on me. A two-year project--restoring our dining room--finally came to an end. When my husband and I married, I moved into his 1924 2-story home, rolled up my sleeves and started working on it. "This house was waiting for you," he always tells me. This dining room was quite a project. We stripped the woodwork, de-wallpapered and repaired the walls, re-plastered the ceiling, restored the hardwood floor. The curtains came from K-mart; the corner curio from an antique store, the hutch from my dad, the table from a couple who wanted a brand-new thousand dollar table that pretty much looked just like the one we now have. The beige microfiber parsons chairs that I ordered at an unbelievable, rock-bottom, bargain-basement price of $50 each (including shipping) arrived in three shipments last week. Merry Christmas, Gina and Eddie Ray.
Our first dinner party in the newly-restored dining room was a culinary success; but never put a professor-turned-priest and a conservative corporate lawyer in the same room, unless you want a heated discussion to nearly come to blows. Thank God for my husband, whose calm authority (that comes with having been a Marine Corp. M.P. and a single father to two boys) put a stop to it. I still need to have a little chat with both of them regarding discussion etiquette in my home, where lively discussions on real issues are always welcome and encouraged, but expected to be held with charity using "inside voices".
What could we have possibly been discussing that could so effectively kill charity? What else but politics, more specifically, socialism? As it turns out, and as is the case all across the nation, our priest is an unwitting supporter of communism, thanks to his "liberation theology" training at seminary back in the day, compounded with those many years in the world of academia. (That's right, folks, they're NOT teaching Lenin and Stalin's successive campaigns of slaughter in American colleges; haven't been for years.) I suspect that he has not earnestly read the encyclical letters of the last 10 Popes, particularly those of Pope Leo XIII who warned us about the dangers of Socialism in all its forms. While I applaud his idealism motivated by a sincere concern for the poor and needy, Father really needs to supplement his education and revise his thinking.
As for the corporate lawyer, his thinking was right-on, no doubt about it. He pointed out the errors in Father's thinking quite effectively and used solid references to do so; but his delivery was too combative and his responses were too defensive to make any kind of headway. He forgot the number one rule when discussing matters of religion: the opponent in the discussion is not the enemy. If you go after your opponent with a desire to win the argument and prove them wrong you will do nothing but entrench them further in their errors. As I replay that argument in my mind, I wonder...what would have happened had he approached Father with charity?
Please have snow... And more snow. And still more snow. And more after that. It started here in Northeastern Ohio Thanksgiving weekend, and hasn't let up. According to the Farmer's Almanac (a gardener's best friend), we'd better just get used to the snow. This year I invested in a few pairs of boots that should last me a number of winters and keep our local cobbler busy with heel repairs and tip replacements, as opposed to BOGO-ing a couple of pairs that I'll wear out by March and ship off to the landfill.
I have mixed feelings about being able to buy several pairs of boots for just myself. I can rationalize that I "need" several pairs of boots, because you can't wear one pair of boots every day to work and not get some goofy looks; but then again, why should I care about goofy looks? Couldn't I have bought a couple more pairs of these cute booties when they were half price and donate them, rather than satisfying my vanity? This got me to thinking about something. Could I start a brand-new Paypal account, throw in $100 to start, stick a button on this blog and start collecting donations to purchase boots such as these for next winter and have them delivered to the Rescue Mission? Hmm. Readers, please give me feedback. Shoe sizes are certainly an issue, but other than that...
Technology is one of those double-edged swords. For instance, on one hand, thanks to the World Wide Web we can now Skype with the kids across the country and see their beautiful faces. On the other hand, thanks to the World Wide Web I waste more time watching streaming video of dumb movies and TV shows on my laptop to the point of sleep deprivation. In September I watched all eight seasons of 24 in about 8 1/2 days. Aside from being totally delirious for the following week, the Economist in me sees all that time I'll never get back in terms of opportunity cost--time I could have spent reading...or writing...or praying.
Beside my bed is a pile of books covered with an embarrassing layer of dust. As I organize all the great books and documents I've been downloading onto my fabulous new Kindle, I am making a serious promise to myself that I'll read at least one of the dusty books I have in print, dusty with neglect thanks to my streaming video addiction, to every one book I read on my fancy-shmancy new Kindle--that is, if I can stop playing this stupid word game that I downloaded yesterday.
...Where The Love Light Gleams... A couple of weeks ago I was asked the following question: "What has God been showing and sharing with you lately?"
Here was my answer: If God actually talked with me in actual words and sentences, he would have been saying to me all year, "Gina! You are always so busy! You busy yourself doing work for Me, and I thank you and love you for it; but Gina, you are not spending enough time with ME! How else can you know what I want from you, and whether or not those things you're doing are My will?" If that don't say it, I don't know what does. I am definitely being called into a more focused life---focused prayer and contemplation.
Of all things, my inability to practice the First Saturday devotion is what has made my lack of focus so painfully obvious. I'd learned about First Saturday devotion while reading about the apparitions at Fatima, but as each first Saturday came I was either too tired, too busy or too distracted to observe it. This past Sunday we went to the Cathedral for Sunday Mass, and we discovered that even though here in my diocese, the Solemnity of Mary will not be obligatory because it falls on a Saturday this year, there will be a Feast Day Mass anyway for those of us who want to observe the Solemnity anyway. How fortunate that it's also a first Saturday. This week I am preparing myself to begin this long-awaited First Saturday devotion. Pray for me that I can stick it out all year.
"...If Only In My Dreams." What will 2011 hold for me? for my husband? my family and friends? I wait in joyful hope as it unfolds before me.