During our children’s time in elementary school, there was always something happening – a full calendar of things to anticipate. We supported them through book reports, spelling tests, math problems, poems to memorize, and performances to prepare. There were also faith matters, prayers to remember, holiness to embrace, and mysteries to ponder.
The other day I did the scariest thing in the world. I wrote on my calendar times to be quiet — just be quiet and listen to God. I will attend Eucharistic Adoration and walk in the local park for three hours every week—for starters.
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Around here, so far, it has been a comparatively mild winter. While many regions have had significant snows, we have been spared. There are weeks of winter to go. Years ago, when our children were in grade school during the wintertime, sometimes there would be a mid-morning burst of storminess. Snow would move in, and adjusted weather forecasts would call for more of the same throughout the day. It was rare, but when conditions were predicted to get more challenging, schools would dismiss early.
The recent holidays found us hosting family on a couple of occasions. For the past few years, we went to others’ homes for festive gatherings. This year, like years ago, we hosted children and grandchildren. There is great joy in seeing everyone and savoring the company of those we love. I think that whenever we gather around a table and share a meal, no matter the occasion, we open ourselves to the possibility of graced moments. To greet, host, serve, and converse are blessings.
When I was a young child, my over-achieving personality kicked into high gear at Christmastime. I was determined each year — using my father’s money — to buy the “hot” new appliance for my mother. This led to an array of hot-dog cookers, hamburger cookers, crepe makers, popcorn machines, and other trendy finds.
About this time of year, when our children were young, we would drive miles into the country to a Christmas tree farm to select a tree for the season’s celebration. The process blended careful analysis and exuberant impulsivity to find the “perfect tree.” Our children scampered down the rows of evergreens through acres of trees. They would ask many times, “What about this one?”