November to December 2017. I couldn’t be more grateful.
I thought that once I started to write about the holidays, I would begin by saying a few complaints, resentments, wish I shoulda’s, and so on. Reason is that I think this time it was the fastest paced holiday season my husband and I experienced. Yet, we were able to keep pace minus a cold that had me down for a little over a week.
We celebrated Thanksgiving in Tucson. Hometown for most of our families. Out of courtesy, we didn’t host Thanksgiving, which over the years I’ve grown to love to do. Instead, we shuffled ourselves to the Old Pueblo, to have it at my sister’s so that the family could easily enjoy it and head into work early next day ‘Black Friday’.
It had been years since we were all together. It was wonderful to hear our laughter all under one roof. Our time was short as we quickly came back home the next day to set up our home in Christmas decor before we ventured ourselves to New York! My crazy ideas. Yes, let us press our limits and do all we can to decorate so that when we return a week later, we can relish in it. My husband is so patient no matter my nutty antics.
Our trip to New York was a treat! We’ve never been in New York City for the Christmas season. As soon as we landed, we felt the excitement in the air. I’ve never been anywhere else for the Christmas season besides Arizona and Las Vegas. So, I really didn’t know what to expect other than what you see on TV for holiday specials at Rockefeller or Christmas shows. However, Christmas was definitely everywhere. I mean everywhere. It’s like the Mayor must’ve told all to exude it or be fired. From the cabs, to the shops, to carolers on the street corners, to the decor, Christmas trees everywhere. Places to grab a hot cocoa or warm pastry. Adults were like children. And yes, the shopper frenzy was full force. I know my husband and I were taken by it all. The store windows blew us away with their Christmas spirit. Truly, it was magical. Better than Disneyland. Over and over. Well, I’m not really a fan of Disney, but you get what I’m saying.
We also couldn’t have planned it better to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the first Sunday of Advent. It was the highlight for sure. Capped off why we were there in NYC to everything else. And to boot, Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Mass. It was perfect!
So coming back from this trip, set us on the right foot. So I thought.
Came back with a bad cold. My ears hurt so much, but thanks to God, no infection. Just the pressure of the flights back caused pain like I didn’t know could happen. Had I known, I would’ve tried to prepare myself better. It took over a week to get fully well. Because of this, I missed out on some opportunities to things I wanted to be a part of for the Advent season, but what could I do. Once I got full steam again, I tried to accommodate the time I missed leading up to Christmas. That only caused my reflection and time with Jesus to get squeezed out.
We spent Christmas in Tucson. It was already planned in November that we journey down there. But my husband and I shared our sentiments, in that, we just wanted to stay home and take in these next blessed days. Well, no chance, and so we put on the game face and headed south back to Tucson. Over Christmas eve and day, we traveled here and there to visit all we could and came back home exhausted. I think something should be said. That all family members participate in this exercise so that everyone knows what it is like to have to do this. When we were younger, it was not a big deal. It’s exhausting now. Ok, I know, move on.
Once we returned home, is when I feel Advent kicked in for me. The week in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. All the readings, encounters with relatives, unity, love, came to me like a rush. I had an energy and peace that I couldn’t get myself to pay attention to. And even though throughout Advent, I did try to stay connected in various ways, what I had planned to do (extra reading, extra Mass attendance, lessons, charity), I couldn’t get to. I would insert short prayers throughout this hectic time. Our Lord knew what I was seeking. He knew my intention of spending more time. He knew I was pushing myself to help make a Christmas for others. He knew there was restlessness in my heart over a matter I needed desperately to be resolved. And so it happened. Our Lord gave me a Christmas with the most clarity I have ever had. Not because I didn’t need to do any of that obedient nurturing, but to show me, I do need that obedient nurturing and to live it out now. I have to fine tune the engine again. Always a good reminder and lesson.
Thank you Holy Spirit! Thank you Magnificat! Thank you Advent handbook! Thank you strangers who I would have lengthy conversations with out of the blue! Thank you Lord God for the countless blessings you helped us witness during this time. +++