Recently our lives, like so many others’ lives, fell into unexpected disorder. In the blink of an eye, we were expected to set aside the basic rhythm of our daily lives—the very pulse by which we order our days. What a challenge, especially in America, where our national ethos is largely defined by the fact that we live and die by the workday and where productivity gives us a sense of fulfillment and meaning. We’re expected to adapt to the rollercoaster of emotions and uncertainty brought on by two opposing yet powerful forces: the massive onslaught of information and a looming unknown. Oh, and our kids are home from school. All day.
Advent and Christmas have always held a particular meaning to me depending on the season and space of my life; the way I’ve internalized their meaning changes depending on who and where I am at the time. I’ve been a mother for 13 Christmases now. For the majority of that time, Advent and Christmas have been about making the season magical for my kids in that sparkly, sugar-dusted-self-defeating sort of way. Where puffs of flour appear in the air each time someone opens our door and our calendar is color coded and overloaded. Of course, all this magic-making inevitably stresses me out beyond the point of no return, negating the very magic I try to create. Sure, it’s also been about helping my children come to learn about the salvific birth of our Lord, who came to save the world, teach us to love, and lead us to heaven, and I think (largely thanks to their amazing teachers) they get that. But all of this magic-making has, slowly but surely over the last 13 years, replaced my own grasp of what this season is supposed to be for me.
I’m known among my friends and family as a staunch curmudgeon when it comes to technology – particularly regarding kids, teens and our collective use of smartphones and social media. Back in 2007, I peered at ads of the forthcoming iPhone with lots of suspicion and a little fear, much like the way one looks at a feral cat. Surely, it was the beginning of the end.
Out-of-uniform “dress down” days are a common way for Catholic schools to incentivize charitable giving among their students. This month’s dress down day at my children’s grade school benefitted the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, so the school was collecting canned goods instead of money.