What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Candy Christmas

"Christmas: It's not the giving, it's not the getting, it's the loving."

"I'll be fine and dandy. Lord, it's like a hard candy Christmas. I'm barely getting to tomorrow but still I won't let sorrow bring me way down."
-Dolly Parton

I wanted to just take a minute in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to reflect on the real reason for the season. I think too often that so many of us forget to just take a minute to reflect on what Christmas is really all about. It's not about getting the newest toys or the latest fashions, it's about being with the ones you love and celebrating the magic of the holiday season. I also think it's important to take a minute to remember all those who don't have any family or even a place to stay. I work with a lot of homeless youth at my site and I just feel so bad for them that many of them won't have a place to stay on Christmas Eve and will be forced to sleep on the streets in the cold Chicago winter. It doesn't seem right that they have no place to stay and no family to take them in or buy them presents for the holiday. It breaks my heart that they are in this situation through no fault of their own. My sincerest holiday wish this year is that they all find a home and a family to love them this next year. I know that's unrealistic but Christmas is all about miracles.
We also should take a moment to remember those who have lost a loved one this year and will be spending Christmas without them for the first time. Just in the last 48 hours, I have found out about three people back home who have lost someone they cared about and it just kills me. I have always thought that people dying so close to Christmas is some kind of cruel joke that God likes to play on us. It just doesn't seem right to lose somebody you love so close to what should be a day of joy, not sadness. I don't know why these things have to happen. I just know that it is a terrible thing.
So, while you are out these next few days buying that last toy that your child or sibling or spouse just has to have, just take a minute to reflect on what the real meaning of this season is. Is it really about the gifts?? Does your wife really need that diamond necklace she's been eyeing all year?? Do your kids really need those video games that they have been begging you for since March?? Do you really need to pile on more debt so you can buy something that will score you extra points and make you the best father/son/husband/brother ever?? The answer to all these questions is no. I worry that Christmas has become too commercial and has become all about the stuff. Whatever happened to spending the holiday with family and singing Christmas carols and baking cookies and staying up late talking to a long -lost friend? Isn't that what Christmas is really all about?? Reflect on that for a minute and you just might realize that you have signed up for the material rather than the spiritual side of Christmas.
As for me, I'm not getting anyone any gifts this year mainly because my budget can't afford it anyway. I couldn't even think of anything I wanted or needed for Christmas either. Odd, as I used to be the kid who had his Christmas list ready by Halloween and made sure to pack it with lots of stuff that I just had to have. Now, reflecting on it, I realize that I had too much stuff. Most of that stuff I played with for a few months but then never touched it again. A lot of it is probably sitting in a box in the garage somewhere. Stuff that I just had to have is now collecting dust. How sad is that?? Plus, to be honest, I don't really have room for any more stuff. I have way too many movies (which I almost never watch since I rarely re-watch a movie), books (which I rarely re-read), CDs (which just get uploaded straight to my Ipod and then never opened again) and various other things. Of course, there are some things that I have gotten for Christmas that I still use frequently (Ipod, TiVo, my big-screen TV that I cannot wait to get back to) and such. However, the majority of the stuff that I get for Christmas ends up not getting much use. Perhaps I've finally realized that the stuff isn't important. It took moving here and living simply for me to realize that that is actually an efficient and good way to live.
I'm not going home for Christmas so will be spending it here in Chicago with the cold and the snow. It's supposed to snow almost every day this week which I am excited about. Should make for a white Christmas which is rare in my world!! Most of the roommates headed home for the holidays so the house is practically deserted now. Makes for some very quiet nights which allows me to get a lot done. I've been "adopted" for the holidays so won't have to spend it alone which is good. I'm realizing that family is not just your biological family but also whoever you choose to include in the definition. Work is slowly turning into a ghost town and next week there will be almost nobody there which means my work load will be significantly reduced. That should allow me time to finish up my seminary applications and get them submitted. It's a long process but I am diligently plowing through them. I still plan to have them completely finished and ready to submit by January 1st so that I can go party on New Year's Eve with a clear conscience!! The last couple of weeks at work have been super busy as Advent at a church is always a busy time of year, in case you didn't know so I am looking forward to next week when it slows down considerably. Have had so much going on the last couple of weeks between Christmas parties and Christmas dinners and special worship services and such so a week to just relax and not do anything will be great and is exactly what I need. It's also that time of year for me when my movie watching ramps up considerably as we are hitting awards season (aka my second favorite time of year). I've already made a list of all the movies I need to see and have started diligently plugging away at them. So, for the next few months, I may be busy watching a lot of movies. I can't help it, I will always be a movie buff!! Anyway, I shall close this off. I will probably not get a chance to write again until after Christmas so I do sincerely wish everyone all the best and may you have a Merry Christmas!! Remember to take some time to acknowledge those who have no roof over their head or food in their belly and also those who are grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas. Maybe call them up and invite them over to your house for Christmas or some similar gesture. I know they will appreciate it even if they don't accept the offer. Finally, I want to leave you with my all-time favorite verse from the Christmas story. Enjoy and remember God loves you (and so do I)!!
"And it came to pass that in those days there were shepherds watching over their flocks by night and an angel of the Lord appeared before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were afraid. But the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people for unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord."


  1. Friend, this is beautiful.

    When I was in 7th grade, we had a priest at my church named Fr. Moyer. He gave a sermon on the First Sunday of Advent that I will never forget; it was about maintaining the spirit of Advent, and eventually, that of Christmas. He said that whenever we were stuck in traffic, or having a hard time lighting the tree, or burning the ham, or standing in a neverending line at the mall, to whistle/hum/sing quietly/think the lyrics to "O Little Town of Bethlehem." He said it would keep us centered on what this season is all about. It's been thirteen years since Fr. Moyer gave that sermon. He's moved on to another church and started a family and probably just barely remembers me, but I have not forgotten a word of his sermon. I have found myself humming those lyrics everyday this Advent.


    I love you, Tad. Merry Christmas!

  2. "Blessed is the season which engages the world in a conspiracy of love."
    -Hamilton Mable