December 14, 2012

santa is a party clown

Being Aunt Meggie is one of the very most prized roles in my life up to this point. I love when I get to spend time with the little preshy-pies, and also I love quoting things they say and writing blog posts about them. I quote them a lot because regardless of our significant age difference, they are for sure smarter than me. I'm sure of it because they are constantly saying things that make my internal dialogue go something like this: I knew that. Right? I did, didn't I? Surely... I must have... They say things that are so funny and profound all at once that it's hard to fully wrap my mind around it. Given their track record, I wasn't that surprised last year when Timmy [age 7, then] said to Amie, about Christmas, the following:

So, is Santa like a clown for Jesus' birthday?

I mean, really. These kids. They're like  tiny theologians.

I feel sure there have been days during this very season where I spent more time trying to come up with a Christmas list than thinking about Jesus. I'm embarrassed about it, but it's the truth. And that's what my tender-hearted, brilliant little nephew was getting at when he said that to my sister. 

Jesus is what's important, right? 
Santa is fun but Jesus is the big deal, right? 
Isn't this party is really for Jesus?

Whether he knew it or not, with that little question, Timmy hit a pretty hard theological nerve, at least for me. Because I think no matter how good we are, no matter how much we love Jesus and how well we evangelize and how many seminary degrees we have - yes, even for us - there may come a moment where we're so caught up with the clown that we forget about the real reason for the party. There are moments when things that are not the point take the spotlight over the real reason we're celebrating. When our focus goes to gifts that are shiny and tangible over the ones that actually mean something.

Clowns aren't bad. They can be fun, I guess,  if you're into that kind of thing, and so long as they're not starring in a horror movie. But if you're at a birthday party, you don't fawn over the entertainment, do you? You don't tell the clown how much you love it, right, how glad you are it was born? Unless of course it's a clown's birthday; but let's forget that as an option or my whole analogy is shot. My point is this: Christmas is fun. So much fun. I love it, and I intend to continue enjoying the many perks of the yuletide season. But instead of spending the holiday season focused on frivolous entertainment - on Santa Claus and Christmas lists, the plethora of ABC Family Christmas movies available on Netflix, Skinny Peppermint Mochas, and the Mariah Carey Christmas album - I hope that we can all [myself perhaps the very most] heed Timmy's warning and not lose sight of what we're celebrating.

Because this party is really for Jesus.

December 10, 2012

for just in case you get nervous

Today I went to see a guy I know. He's an older guy, and something you should know about him is he's a giver. He loves to give people things. He doesn't have a lot, not much at all - but what he has, he gives. I've seen him give away anything from wristwatches to cigarettes to an entire platter of chicken, once. One thing he particularly likes to try to give me is VHS tapes. He's got a plethora, apparently, and I can't tell you the number of times he's tried to convince me to go buy a VCR so that he can give me videos. He'd very much like to be my own personal Blockbuster. Videos for days.

Today I did something for him, something that he could not do for himself, and afterwards he wanted to thank me. After going through the whole VCR debate once more for good measure, he hoisted himself up from where he was perched on his walker and went to a drawer under the the shelf where the infamous videos are haphazardly stored. From the drawer he pulled out a small plastic bag of what I know to be his favorite candy, and from that he drew a generous handful and motioned for me to hold out my hands. Here, he said. I resisted, said no thanks, said I'd rather he keep them, tried all my usual refusal tricks, but he would not take no for an answer, not this time. After some back-and-forth about how no, I was not refusing because I thought he was trying to poison me, he said:  just put 'em in your pocket. For just in case you get nervous. What that even means, I'm not sure. I suppose there'd be no way of knowing. Either way, what choice did I have?

I filled my pocket with Root Beer Barrels.
For just in case I get nervous.

I don't have a really significant reason for telling this story, other than I wanted to tell it - it was just one of those nice moments we get to enjoy sometimes, if we're paying close enough attention. I was presented with a sacrificial kind of generosity, one of the rarer kinds, and one I wouldn't have expected to experience in the form of a Root Beer Barrel, if we're being honest. It was only a handful of candy, yes, but it was his handful of candy. It was all he had to give, and he was so, so happy to have given it. I think that's kind of a beautiful thing.

Maybe it sounds like a strange thing to take note of, and maybe it is, a little. All I know is, today was a good day, and whether I wanted them or not, I've got a pocket full of Root Beer Barrels to prove it. And for whatever reason, I just think that's great.

December 4, 2012

fine or not fine, here goes nothing

The other day I was sitting at my desk with my office door open and one of my coworkers walked by. I heard him, noticed him, I think I even turned around and maybe even waved. Once he passed by the door, though, he almost immediately turned back - he came in, sat down across from me, and looked at me with what appeared to be extreme concern.

Ok, he said, what's wrong? 
I said, confused, nothing's wrong. I'm fine. I was. Why do you ask?
Dead serious, he said, when I started down the hall I was singing a song and you didn't pick it up when I walked by your office. I was worried. 

Being in a profession with so many intuitive people is annoying sometimes, I won't lie to you, because hiding is essentially impossible. It's not far from the truth to say that he knew something was wrong before I did. After all, he was right. I hadn't even noticed he was singing - and that really isn't like me. So I thought about it. I thought I was fine, but was I fine? If not, then why? Why am I all of a sudden not doing things that I love and are important to me?

On a completely separate and unrelated note, you may or may not have noticed that it has been over a month since I wrote anything at all. So. 

It wasn't a choice I made, really, to not write - I guess I just didn't feel like it. Even now, sitting here, it's kind of hard. I wish I knew why. I wish it wasn't hard. I wish I was picking up on songs being sung in my hallway, but I'm not. I wish I felt like sitting down to write, but I just don't. 

A few days after my friend said that about the singing, I was in the car listening to Christmas music. One of my favorite Mariah jams came on and about halfway through it I drew my awareness to the fact that not only was I not singing, I had my jaw clenched so tight I had to make a conscious, physical effort to unclench it. What happened next was this: I started the song over, unclenched my jaw, and I made myself sing. It was incredible. Despite my best efforts to remain cranky, and despite the fact that I did not in any way feel like singing, I just felt so much better. 

Tonight, similarly, I am sitting in a coffee shop, drinking chai tea, listening to good songs, and writing a blog post. It's not the best one I've ever written, but it doesn't have to be. Much like the Mariah phenomenon, just being here is the point. Unclenching my proverbial jaw, so to speak, and putting something on paper. I still don't feel like it. But thankfully I know that feelings aren't facts, so I don't have to listen to them always. So tonight, for a change of pace from the recent past, I'm not.

There are probably a few reasons I feel less-than-fine. I should probably unpack that a little more at some point, but not tonight. For now, tonight, this is enough. Fine or not fine, I'm going to do the things I love to do but currently don't so much feel like doing until maybe soon I feel like doing them again.

Not to mention, we are currently within the confines of the one month a year it is socially appropriate for me to listen to Mariah Carey's Christmas album all day every day, and I don't intend to waste one more day of that precious allotment with any more cranky.

So Happy December, everyone. Here's to Mariah Carey, Christmastime, and feeling finer every day.