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Don’t Miss the Joy of the Season


On my way to work a few weeks ago, I passed a house with four blow-up Christmas characters in its front lawn. Not so strange, you say, it is December. However, these are not your average lawn decorations—this Santa, snowman, reindeer, and Christmas tree all tower over the house they are in front of. They must be 25 feet tall. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I just shook my head and went on my (merry) way to work.
 
The next Sunday at Mass, the priest mentioned that house in his homily. He asked the congregation if anyone had seen that house, as it is just a few blocks from the Church. I turned to my husband and said in a low tone, “I totally have. It’s crazy and I’m glad they’re not our neighbors.”
 
Christmas has really snuck up on me this year. At the beginning of the month, my son started pre-school. So, of course, we’ve already had a double ear infection and a bout of croup. Oh, and I’m about 35 weeks pregnant. My “expectant waiting” in Advent has not quite been a contemplative journey, but rather a race against time and exhaustion. Decorating for Christmas happened in a rush one night after bedtime right after Thanksgiving so I could be sure to get the “perfect” picture for our Christmas cards. Shopping has been done online and half the time with a sick toddler on my lap. I haven’t had time to relish in the season or even begin to explain to my son the true meaning of Christmas.
 
In his homily, our priest said, “How can you not look at that house and smile?” Easily, I thought. But he went on to say how Jesus tells us to look at the world with childlike wonder. So, how, as a child, could you not look at this house and feel giddy?
 
I thought about that for a while. I pictured my son running up to those insanely large blow-up dolls and poking them, then taking a flying leap to bounce off of them, and then laughing hysterically. That definitely made me smile.
 
The priest went on to say that the world was a scary and dangerous place, and if we were too busy to see these small things, and see them through the eyes of a child, we would easily miss some of the joy life has to offer.
 
It’s so true. As a mother, and almost a mother of two, pretty much anything in the news scares the heck out of me. I am constantly worried about my son(s), my husband, and pretty much everyone I know. It’s so easy to miss the joy, even in this season, if we don’t take the time to pay attention.
 
So, in these few days before Christmas, I urge you to smile at tacky blow-up decorations and delight in all the lights in your neighborhood. And remember, Christmas is an entire season, not just a day, so relish in the joy of the greatest gift you will ever receive—God’s love.
 
Amy Reed is a member of RENEW International’s Marketing and Communications team and a Notre Dame alumna.

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