Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

This past weekend, we dressed up in costume, all eleven of us who were home, and journeyed to the movie theatre for the premier of the latest and possibly last installment of Starwars, The Rise of Skywalker.   Our sheer size of a group, ranging in age from eight to fifty-three, plus the assortment of characters, (both light and dark, old and new, comic and film canon), drew lots of smiles and stares and chuckles.   Occasionally, some of us who were less encumbered by our outfits, would forget, yes, we are in costume, and that made the ordinary acts of say, purchasing popcorn or escorting a child to the bathroom (it’s a long movie), all the more fun.  My children loved waving at the motorists as we drove home, and some asked if we could go to IHop or some place just because it would be fun. (We declined, but understood the desire).   The movie, the whole of it, was fun in part because the outfits, the outlandishness of it all, invited other people to also enjoy the experience more. 
Preparing for Christmas is like that as well.

A neighbor and friend of mine starts to trim the outside of her home the moment Thanksgiving ends.  Each weekend, new lights, new colors, new displays until we get to the fourth week of Advent, when her yard is a riot of joy, of whimsy and light.  One cannot drive by without a smile.   Even better, her home pushed some of us who get to the outside if it’s not too cold or wet or when we get to it, to “up our game,” and thus the whole block is awash with light, with reminders of the joy we’re about to both commemorate and celebrate and take with us for the rest of the year.  Her enthusiasm spread joy throughout the neighborhood, which in turn, made it multiply and grow outward, until the whole neighborhood outwardly shown with light, with enthusiasm, with something of joy.

We ought to know by now, joy is contagious. 
Beauty and enthusiasm are the hallmarks of joy, and they must be shared, that is part of the experience of joy.   Mary knew the joy of the incarnation, and shared God with the world through her yes, through her willingness to cooperate with God’s will, that we might know the Father’s love through the Son.   Joseph knew this joy too, and thus protected Mary and Jesus from those in the world who sought to destroy it.  They could not have, but still, joy must be preserved even as it must be shared.   We cannot manufacture it as a feeling, we can only hold it as we would a soap bubble, and yet it is more real than anything we could grasp.  
It is more real than we can bear, and so we receive the cause of all our joy, the source veiled in the Eucharist.  God knows our littleness cannot long endure, we do not yet know how to live in joy, to swim in mercy, to breathe in only, and breathe out only, the Holy Spirit to others.  Advent is an attempt to prepare for that ultimate joy, such that we can experience it more.   Christmas is that more-ness, and we’re to bring it to those around us in all of our everyday.  
The great beauty of this reality, is we can start today, to infuse all of our actions with that joy, with that anticipation of the greater joy, and it requires as always, only our assent, only our fiat to God.   Let us today, make each day going forward, a growing imitation of Mary’s annunciation. 

Come, let us bring the source of all Joy to the World to the World.   Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday's Posting

I found out late I had a piece over at the Register, but there was so much going on on Friday, I didn't get to my computer until today.  If you saw likes, they came through my phone and I don't post things from my phone because I don't want to spend that much time text typing. 

Here's the link to the piece over at the Register: To Stand Out is to Stand Up for Christ.   Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Dear Mom, with love, P.S. What's for Snack?

Dear Mom,
It has come to our attention that you are seeking to engage in this unproductive activity known as sleep. Given the nature of our needs and business (24-7), we find this disruption in your on call response time to our wishes to be an unacceptable arrangement. Should you persist in rendering yourself voluntarily unconcious for 1-8 hours on a daily basis, it could jeapordize your position here.
Some helpful suggestions from upper management which arranged an emergency meeting to discuss your recent insistence on time off in between the hours of midnight and five a.m.  The proposed solutions are enclosed within for your consideration and adoption. 

1) caffiene in large quantities on a continual basis
2) electronic implants that ring when your eyes enter into the REM cycle, (A cursory google search indicated such things are possible and probably only slightly painful). 
3) a talk radio stationed at your side at all times to give you 24-7 streaming non stop noise. 
Additional suggestions considered were, the creation of a less comfortable bed, or an elimination of the bed in its entirety. However, others on the managment of parental units team vetoed this as the afformentioned bed has proven useful as a place to fold laundry, have a snack, and have a heart to heart about what needs to be done before tomorrow.
It is a useful conference spot. So it stays.
Please however, refrain from abusing this privledge by sleeping. Such luxuries are reserved for those you serve.. Speaking of which, the powers that be wish it to be known that they ought not to be summoned from their restorative cycles of meditation, reflection and destressing before noon during non school days, not for food, not for laundry, not for errands, maybe for depends upon what is being served.
Anyway, as an added bonus, the board all chipped in to get you a yearly suppy of Red Bull. We’re sympathetic to the need for an assist and happy to help in this small way. You’re welcome, but no more sleeping on the job.
Sincerely, with love,
The Children.
P.S. What's for snack?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Snow Day

As such, I can return to blogging instead of doing laundry, grading, bills, Christmas shopping --well, I've done a little of that, and maybe in a little while, I'll stop procrastinating. 

Thus far I've drunk hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Watched cartoons with my kids.

Cleaned out my inbox.

Eaten Christmas cookies.

Made a list of the things I should have been doing. 

Gone to the bank for a check register and to two different CVS for the prescription.

On any other day, this would be a reasonably efficient day. 

The problem with a snow day is,I don't have the excuse of not having time for not having gotten stuff done. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

SpamBot Saturday Growing Our Christmas

Because no one reads back posts, I wait for the Spambots to do it for me.   Here's a throwback to my first year of blogging for your seasonal enjoyment.  That's right. Think of this as the Raskin Bass version of my blog.   Pass the eggnog. 

It started with what I thought was a rather flippant post on Facebook.  

I know liturgically, we have four weeks of Advent, but I think next year, to help myself get a handle on Christmas, I'm going to pretend it's like Lent and circle November 15, so I think...40 days to prepare and make ready. At least then, maybe I won't get to two weeks from Christmas and think, I'm still so very not not not ready. Or at the very least, I'll have longer to be ...not ready.

But it struck a nerve.  

This should be a time of blessed waiting, but very often, it is a time of frantic anxiety, with too many projects, too much work, too much needing to be done, not done, too many things to buy that cost too much.  It is easy to have the peace and joy of anticipating Christmas drowned by the tinsel and clang of "Martha Stewarting" or Saint Marthaing our preparations.   

Knowing I'm not the only one who suffers from this I haven't done enough, there's so much to do I can't start, I'm writing today to invite whoever has not really begun to look up from the sheep and look at the star to stop.  Put on some good Christmas music and put out one decoration today. Then take way one bag of stuff or things to give to charity or get rid off.  You will feel more of Christmas.

Then, tomorrow, do it again.  Bit by bit, day by day, Christmas will draw nearer, to your heart as well as the actual event.  

What will people remember of Christmas, what you gave willingly. These are the gifts that touch the heart.  So prepare, but let yourself recognize the why of this preparation, and anticipate how what you do today, will cultivate Joy to be given full flower come Christmas day.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Small Success Thursday

Sometimes the success is in the surviving.  This was a rough week...lots going on like papers and assessments and basketball practices and volunteering and evening meetings and afternoon projects such that I'm grateful to make it to Thursday. It feels like longer since last week, we had most of it off. 

Restart.  Refresh.  Repeat. That's what I tell myself when we have  rough week.  Begin again.

So this past week we sent out Christmas cards.  We put up the tree.  We mailed some presents.  We organized for the week.  We did basketball twice, and all the other meetings.  Now...I need a nap.  No really.  I want to sleep like hibernate for a month.  I'll be rested then, ready to go, no problem. 

In the meantime, I hope this week filled you with small successes over the trials of each day. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tips for Teachers

The biggest plague of modern education is the cell phone.  As teachers, we spend much time telling students in so many words, stop looking at the screen and think.   I've tried cell phone jails, happy bribes --i.e. if you go without the screen, you get a treat at the end of class, and phoning home.  I've promised to call security.  I've begged. I've stood in front of someone and stared. 

My favorite tactic is to photobomb or to talk to whosoever dares to call during my class. "Hey.  This is Mrs. Antonetti.  Since you're so interested in my class, I presume you've followed along with the assignments. Tell me, what do you think will happen next in the book and why?"  It ususally chases people off their phones for days. 

I've also sung, which is risky because you'll get repeating choruses of whatever you sang and if you sang poorly...well, you can guess what happens. 

I've also explained to texting teens, to stop or I will do the next text and I will text, "Please do not text from 7:45 AM to 2:30 PM so as to ensure that students are not interrupted from their work."  I also use remind to text to students to get off their phones but the irony of using technology that needs  a phone to get them off their phones often interfers with compliance.

When the kids say it's their mom, I explain I'll call their home and let their mom know how things are going, or offer to talk myself and offer to have a conference if there's a serious issue that needs to be addressed.   The phones go into the backpacks with great speed.

As I told my son today, most problems can be solved with humor and humilty.  The number of times I've needed to tell people to put away their phone is trickling down.  I continue my strategy tomorrow.  I'm thinking of doing a spam text that plays Xanadu tomorrow on the stragglers or Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday The First Sunday of Advent

In an effort to spend less time on my computer and more time with my family, I will be posting a link to a prior piece I've written on Advent on Sundays.  Here's the first from Catholic Digest, December 10th, 2013.   If you haven't read it, it's new to you. 

Emptying the Stable.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!