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Spiritual Hot Cocoa
by Sherry Antonetti

 

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The Gift of Being Present
by Sherry Antonetti

The kids and I were talking about Christmas. For fun, I started a list about what I wanted.

I’d like my son and maybe even my daughter to be potty trained. If my next daughter could stop twisting her hair in knots and her brother could read chapter books with ease, that would be lovely. I’d hope for the baby to stop getting colds which she does with alarming ease, and the oldest to acquire a hint of discernment. (i.e. not ride a grocery cart down a hill at a shopping mart parking lot).

I’d love my newest adolescent to not get so very upset when she makes a mistake and I’ll still point out misspelled words and remind her, my mom does that to me too. I’d wish that her sister to learn to speak up without stamping her foot to do so. I’d intended to make the list into something funny about where in the store we could find each of these items, For Dummies books on the areas of Parenting where I have arguably flunked.

Then, a week ago, a family in my parish experienced a nightmare. Their son had died in his sleep. He was fifteen.

We were acquaintances, but the rawness of it all hit home. The idea of going through the mundaneness of Monday routine suddenly felt so comforting, I mourned that this mother and this father won’t have that again. I looked at my list I had started in jest. Maturity. That was what I wanted, each of my children to grow up a bit. I had wanted time to speed up. For this family, time had stopped.

Now I firmly believe with all my heart that all suffering, even the most incomprehensible, has within it, the opportunity for grace, wisdom and the deepening of one’s faith and communion with God for everyone. Suffering serves as a reminder to not allow the everyday gift of life and health and abundance be overlooked quite so often. I still forget. Death acts as spiritual wake up call to live and do and speak well today.

I will still push each and every one of my kids to grow as a parent must, but maybe I won’t feel quite as discouraged when today is not the day they decide to actually study for the test as much as they ought or pick a book over TV or decide to try wearing underwear.

Suddenly, my Christmas list is blank. I have all I need and more than I could have hoped.

I made a new Christmas list.

  1. Exercise. Make today New Years. Resove to be better to the first gift we received, our body.
  2. Spend less by either making a budget and sticking to it or creating a matching program by saving all gift receipts and paying an equal amount to a designated charity as part of Christmas.
  3. Do someone else’s chores. Don’t tell them.
  4. Practice your music if you know an instrument. Sing if you don’t.
  5. Dream with your family about what you would like to do. Share your own Christmas memories, ask them for theirs.
  6. Take a Christmas photo because everyone is here, not because everyone is perfect.
  7. Feast with people, feast with music and food, feast with color and warmth, feast with love. Be generous of spirit in all things, even the minutia of a school parking lot.
  8. Pray for Peace on Earth, start with peace in your own heart and home. Offer up your frustration at the long lines, crowded stores and the endless array of tasks that can clutter the season. If all you do is swallow your anger, it’s still there. Hail Mary’s help.
  9. Set up your Crèche and Advent Wreath. Let the kids play with the sheep. Give Luminaries as presents to families rather than stuff and carol while you do. It will create great memories for both families.
  10. Make your lists to help facilitate the season, but put on it somewhere, Wait Patiently for Christmas.

We have these blessed four weeks to prepare for Christ's coming, but intruth, we must be ready every day. We must have the wisdom of the Kings and the humility of the Shepherds to recognize our God and be waiting for the day when we must journey to see Him face to face. Happy Advent!


Sherry Antonetti is a mother of eight children and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns with prior publications in Absolutewrite, the Catholic Standard, Beaumont Enterprise and the Washington Post. She can be reached at [email protected]. You can read additional pieces from her blog, http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com.


© Sherry Antonetti 2007

12/10/07

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