Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belated Merry Christmas

What a week!! Last day of school, Friday Dec. 19th, finally!! Went straight home to do laundry and pack. We had to be at the airport on Saturday morning at 7:30 am for a 9:00 am flight. Bryan spent the night with us so we just had to pick up my oldest son and his girlfriend. At the airport we find out the flight is delayed until 10:30 am. Oh well at least it's on the way there.
We were headed for Las Vegas. Not my idea of a great vacation destination but since Bryan just turned 21, he was on cloud nine. In his words, Las Vegas is the adults Disneyland!
When we started planning this trip, for Bryan's birthday, my husband made return plane reservations for the redeye at 11:30 pm on Christmas day. WHAT? No way, I said, I want to be back home for Christmas. Four days is more than enough in Las Vegas. Besides, I want to be at my own parish for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I'm in the choir and we were singing at 10:00 pm mass Christmas Eve and 10:00 am mass Christmas Day. On Christmas day I was to be sacristan at two masses and Eucharistic Minister at one mass. Yes, I definitely needed to be back home by Christmas Eve. So with grumbling from my family, reservations were made for my return flight at 11:00 am on Christmas Eve. After all, I would be spendig time with them until I left and they would be home a day and a half later.
Our time in Las Vegas was mainly spent gambling and eating. Bryan was on a mission to see every casino in Vegas. Big brother did his best to tell him which casino's were nicer since he had been there before, but to no avail. It was his first time and he had to see for himself. I am not much of a gambler so spent most of my time at the penny machines. This earned me the nickname grandma! Nice family, I have!
In Vegas it doesn't even seem like it's Christmas. It's not just the lack of snow, at least by the time we got there. The only decorations are a few real Christmas trees in some of the hotel lobbies but for the most part any Christmas trees around the casinos were a bunch of gold sphere shapes "glued " together in the shape of a tree. It was really unnerving walking through a casino, with all the bright lights, ding - ding from slot machines and heariing Adeste Fideles over the sound system. Bryan mentioned the word surreal several times.
Finally it was Chritmas Eve and I got up early, showered, packed and was ready to go home. My husband checked his phone and there was an automated message from the airline telling us to call the airline and check on the flight. After waiting on hold for fifteen minutes, we decided it was probably a delayed flight and not knowing for how long, I probably should head for the airport. We took the cell phone, still on hold, with us. Just as we got to the cab stand in front of the hotel, the airline reservationist answered. My flight wasn't delayed, it was cancelled. WHAT? The next flight that they could put me on was at 3:15 pm. Today? No, tomorrow. But I need to be back home today!!! Sorry! I ended up on the redeye with the rest of my family.
Back up to the hotel room and unpack. After some tears, a call back to my parish to let them know I needed someone to cover for me as sacristan and Eucharistic minister, I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn't be home for Christmas. I was homesick for my parish, my spiritual family.
Actually, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, though I tried to be in a good mood for my family. After all, it wasn't their fault. No need to ruin their vacation.
When I finally got home, I was trying to catch up on reading the blogs that I follow. I was reading Adoro's blog for Christmas day and it really hit home. How selfish was I being. Christmas day for our Savior was one of hardship. Who am I to complain? Adoro you really should be a homilist!
We are all home safe and sound. I am thankful.
Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Twelve days of Christmas

I don't forward many emails but I received this one at school the other day. The story may not be true but I thought the symbolism was something to think about.

In England from 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So the next time you hear the Christmas Carol of the Twelve Days of Christmas may you remember those who were so creative in finding ways to teach the children the foundations of our faith.

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy 21st Birthday Bryan

Wow, it's hard to believe that it has already been 21 years since you came into this world . When people tell you that children grow up fast, they weren't kidding. The years have flown! It seems just yesterday that Dad was talking to you,telling you not to make us go to the hospital until he had his coffee and read the paper and to please be born within a reasonable time. This was after spending 18 hours in labor and going through 3 shifts of nurses with your brother. Gee, poor Dad! But you listened to Dad, probably one of the few times in your life, and we didn't have to head to the hospital until 7:00 am and you were born a few minutes before 1:00 pm.

When they laid you in my arms you alternately cried and tried to put your fist in your mouth, obviously hungry. That didn't change much when you went home, you were trying to drink 8 ozs. of formula when most newborns drink 2 ozs.

Maybe that was the reason you cried most of the 1st year - and didn't sleep, you were hungry!!

The nurses in the nursery absolutely loved you because you liked to be held and rocked. You have always been so affectionate and loving. After that first year you were a happy child, always laughing and you had the most wonderful laugh.

Always the jokester, it was hard to stay mad at you. As I was giving you a "stern talking to" you would usually come up with some quip that would make me start laughing. So much for disciplining!
As you got older that sense of humor turned into telling me stories with a straight face. Then when I believed you, you would laugh and tell me how gullible I am.
Well baby boy it's been a wonderful 21 years and I'm looking forward to many more. You are truly a gift from God and I am happy He gave you to me. There's nothing better than being a mom. I love you very much!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Listen Up

StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization that honors and celebrates lives through listening, has declared today as the first National Day of Listening. Here is their press release:
StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.
This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.
It made me think about how many times some people want to tell you their story but we are thinking about what we need to do or where we need to be and are only half way listening. How many interesting stories do we miss? How much of our own personal history do we not know?
I know I wish I would have listened more. When I was younger and when I was raising my sons I was to busy and distracted to listen to my parents and relatives. Now that I'm older and would love to hear these stories, my parents are deceased and I'm an only child. I still have cousins to share stories about general family history but no siblings to share and remember more of my personal history.
During this busy season and beyond, let us try to listen more, really listen, to relatives, people at church, neighbors and others that we see on a regular basis. Maybe we will learn something really interesting and maybe we will make someone feel special.
Both sound great to me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving

This is a prayer from the Diocese of Cleveland newsletter. It is taken from a memo from the Akron Area Interfaith Council:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

O Creator and God of All,
We give thanks for all that we have.

For our food, we give thanks.
Help us to remember those who are hungry.
Instill in us the goal to feed all of your people.

For our friends, we give thanks.
Help us to remember those who are alone.
Instill in us the care to bring others into our circle.

For our job, we give thanks.
Help us to remember the jobless.
Instill in us the resources to find jobs for all.

For our health, we give thanks.
Help us to care for those with health needs.
Instill in us the focus to provide all with needed healthcare.

For the beauty of nature, we give thanks.
Help us to remember that we are stewards of creation.
Instill in us the wisdom and will to care for our planet.

When we sit to rest and think that all is well, stir us up to know
that your work is not done. Instill in us the heart to love all
as we serve all. Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day

At the high school where I teach the seniors participate in"Turkey Day" every year on the tuesday before Thanksgiving. We start out at a Thanksgiving prayer service that includes the entire school. At the end of the service the student body extends their hands towards the seniors for a blessing before they leave for the day. They are headed for a day of community service at various programs in Lake and Geauga counties. Their time and talents are used ministering at hospice, food banks, homeless shelters, childcare centers, outdoor parks and catholic elementary schools.
This culminates almost three and one half years of emphasizing the Catholic practice of service to the community and each other. During freshman, sophomore and junior years the students do numerous hours of service as part of their religion studies. The hope is that they will continue serving others after they graduate from high school and many do just that.
It's amazing and heartening to see some students who are not the most responsible or conscientious in an academic setting, come to life when they are interacting with young children, the elderly or the homeless. To see the caring and compassion that you don't always see in the short time you are with them during the school day is very moving.
At the end of the day the seniors come back to school to share a meal together and reflect on their day. Since they are at approximately 18 different locations many stories are shared. The realization of the many blessings that they have is a great lesson learned by all.
When we so often hear a multitude of complaints against teenagers, it's important to remember to appreciate the many ways they share their gifts.
Lord, I am thankful for all our students. Please protect and guide them. Amen.