Regardless of what you think of President Trump, there’s one thing that he did this year that you probably agree with. It has to do with Christmas. During his campaign for president, Trump promised that he would bring back the word “Christmas” to the Christmas season. He complained about how he no longer sees the word anywhere in the stores during the Christmas season. He said that he was tired of seeing “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
During the week, I do my best to attend Mass every day. Because Sacred Heart Church is only three blocks from my office, I usually end up walking there for the midday Mass, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Ordinarily there are 30 to 50 people who attend that particular Mass. About half of the people work downtown and the other half are people who are either retired or do not have a job that keeps them from driving downtown to attend the Mass.
Earlier this month, I had a conversation with a judge who recently retired after serving as a state court judge for more than 20 years. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “John.” John is in his early 60s, and during our conversation he asked me how many grandchildren I have. I told him that after adding three new grandsons last month, my wife and I have 10 grandchildren.
On Christmas morning, my wife sent a text message to me and our children with a link to a YouTube video. The beginning of the video showed images from the first Christmas. The audio that played in the background was from the segment of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus recited the famous passage from the Gospel of Luke: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them….”
Advent is now upon us. What is Advent? It’s a time of waiting, a time of preparation — spiritual preparation for the anniversary of the coming of Jesus Christ. Instead of making spiritual preparations during Advent, many of us get caught up in the demands of everyday living. Any extra time that we have is spent on the material preparations that have become an annual tradition, such as buying gifts, decorating our homes and work areas, planning parties, and baking treats.
During my sophomore year in high school, I had a friend with whom I would regularly compete to see who could lift the most weights. (For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Frank.”) Anytime one of us challenged the other, we would meet in the locker room to see who could bench press the most weight. Frank had an advantage over me because he was a year older, two inches taller, and weighed about thirty pounds more than I did.
I grew up in the country in a family neighborhood that included seven families. My grandparents lived next door to my parents, and all of the other families in the neighborhood were made up of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. One of the uncles was my dad’s brother, Bill Williams. His house was located next to a wooded area where he would sometimes hunt for rabbits and quail. Uncle Bill loved hunting so much, he set up a little “gun shop” in his basement where he could re-fill his own shotgun shells.