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Monday, December 24, 2012

Third Time's Not the Charm

I've figured out why I keep eating, even after I've decided the food isn't worth it. It's the same reason I keep listening to B101's Christmas music, regardless of the fact that their station managers seem to have decided there are maybe 12 holiday songs worth playing - that's their story, they're sticking with it - so no need to bore their audience with anything inspirational or - yee gads - original.

Don't misunderstand. I'm really not knocking the DJ's for playing what their audience wants to hear. Actually, I'm kicking myself for falling into the same trap time and again. I keep tuning in, hoping to hear something different, and it always surprises me just a bit when I get the same old thing, ad nauseum. In like foolish manner, I'll go back to the table repeatedly, even though, as my friend Randi says, the food really isn't that great. I know I can have leftovers tomorrow. I know it's not going to be any more delicious the second time around than it was the first. Foods that were ho hum with the first bite are not going to wow me any more with second helpings, so WHY do I go back for more?

The plain fact is, I'm chasing a high.

I don't want the experience to end. I want my heart to be warmer, the sensations I'm feeling to last longer or be amplified. Something irrational inside me subscribes to the notion that whatever is going on around or within me simply isn't enough. I have to supplement it with some sort of sensory pleasure that is always elusive and always fleeting.

Just for today, I'm going to try to let God have the last word.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
I Corinthians 10:31

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and December 26th

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and December 26th

My father-in-law used to say the heaviest thing for him to pick up was a pen. That was back in the days when people used such outdated implements to correspond with each other. Nowadays, we might say the hardest things to un-stick are the keyboard letters. Either way, we're talking about writer's block, and mine has been  noticeable these last few months.

I must acknowledge and dedicate this post to my dear friend René, who has been gently nudging me for several weeks now to get back on the proverbial horse and ride. A faithful reader of my blog, she has been dutifully checking for the latest posts, only to find there were NONE! I've been blaming my reticence on the old standby, Christmas busy-ness, but René was having none of it.

"It's been well over a month! It is time!" was her last admonition to me; so René, this one's for you.

We do make Christmas ridiculously busy in our culture. Not surprisingly, we become tired and cranky, and turn what should be a joyous celebration of imperial birth into a time of stress and often emptiness. My own cycle goes something like this:

I begin to get the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving. I wait anxiously for B101 and oldies 98 to start playing round the clock Christmas music, and wade through my disorganized collection of CD's to supplement the radio's somewhat limited offerings. I gradually decorate the house until one day I walk downstairs and realize my vinyl Christmas tablecloth is just too much, and secretly look forward to stashing it away till next year. When my children were younger, I read Christmas stories and the Christmas story to them at bedtime; now that they're more or less grown, I read heartwarming yule tales to myself, without telling anyone (till now). Our family lights scented candles that make our artificial tree seem more piney, while watching Nick at Night's Christmas marathon, circa 1994, for the thousandth time, and munching cheater's Pillsbury cookies out of the freezer (they don't necessarily have to be baked; we don't believe in wasting time).

As our family is of mixed lineage, we celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas. This is one of my favorite parts of the holiday celebration, as it reminds me of my dear father, whose menorah (wax-encrusted and in dire need of polishing, but nevertheless quite functional) almost makes it seem like he's still with us. I send out holiday cards in batches, wending my way through two dilapidated personal address books and several church directories. Throughout the month I package up homemade goodies (often "ghost-baked" by my fairy godmother, Anita, whose banana bread is listed right next to nectar and ambrosia on the official menu for the gods), and deliver said treats to deserving service providers, whose good will I hope to maintain in the new year.

Somewhere around the 20th I start to panic, realizing I haven't wrapped a thing, let alone finished shopping. I make one last trip to the mall and begin wrapping with abandon. Towards the end of the Scotch Tape (and my patience), I switch over to bagging, which is more sensible anyway, since my boys have zero appreciation for ribbons, bows, or Thomas Kinkade-themed paper.

December 24th is probably my favorite day of the year, and I try to enjoy it to the fullest. I finish whatever is left to do in the way of gifting or cooking, often visit with family and friends, and generally savor the expectancy of the day. I treasure going to church on Christmas Eve, feeling the warmth in my heart glow brighter with the singing of each cherished hymn. After circling the tree with gifts, I settle down to watch Scrooge or George Bailey evolve into the men God intends them to be, while offering up silent thanks for the many blessings in my life.
Before I know it, Christmas day has arrived, with all its wonderful chaos. Some expectations are met, while other longings remain. One thing I can always count on: it goes too fast. While I'm always relieved that the mad rush is over, I usually also feel a sense of loss of excitement and forward-looking. The realization that winter is upon us, with all its dark, dreary days, that financial aid forms and tax season loom, and no amount of twinkling lights can make those realities go away. In short, a sense that the fun is over, and it's time to get back to work.

No matter how old I get, I can't seem to make the after-Christmas doldrums go away. I count the days till it's time to go back to work, and bite my nails the night before vacation ends. I usually try to stretch out the last day as much as possible, pretending the dawn won't come, and with it, the inevitable jolt back to ordinary life.

Through it all, I try to stick close to God, remembering it is He whose Son we are celebrating. Still, I wake up the day after New Years tired, over-stuffed with food and frolicking, till one thing catches me up short.

Jesus is right where I left Him.

    "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."  Hebrews 13:8