Going to Catholic schools was the best thing to ever happen to me. I learned how to play kickball, perfected the art of kilt wearing, and thanks to my first grade teacher, the day my rear end touches the church pew while kneeling is the day Jimmy Fallon fails to make me laugh. 14 years (and counting) of Catholic education has brought me closer to the Big Man upstairs more than I can articulate, which doesn’t come without its fair share of “Catholic guilt.”
This is not a confessional and you are most likely not a priest. (If you are, however, insert the Act of Contrition here.) Sweet lil baby Jesus was born just a few short days ago in a cow trough and I didn’t go to Mass this morning.
The Christmas spirit has always happened naturally for me but this year the anticipation for the holiday was a bit clumsy. In the days leading up to Christmas I was shoving gingerbread cookies into my face and Michael Buble’s Christmas album into my ears. I could blame it on Indiana’s lack of snow or my last minute Christmas shopping or some other irrelevant factor, but it wasn’t until I was at midnight Mass when I tuned in to the “reason for the season” as your holiday decoration above the kitchen sink proclaims. Even then, the frequency was fuzzy.
I couldn’t force myself into the holiday spirit (I would say “for God’s sake!” but that’s the thing—I failed to do it even for God’s sake.) Don’t get me wrong, I had an absolutely wonderful and beautiful Christmas, but for some reason something was holding me back from being fully immersed in it.
Maybe “Keep holy the Sabbath” can include other ways of glorifying God, like making pancakes and running outside. Perhaps helping others and going to church are the ultimate ways, but I think meal sharing and exercising and appreciating nature and being with loved ones and enjoying home are also ways of celebrating the birth of Christ.
Sure I’ve been a little disconnected and distracted lately. But I think that we could come crawling back to God wearing velour Victoria’s Secret pants and a Tom Brady jersey with a weathered copy of 50 Shades of Grey in hand and He’d still welcome us back with open arms and a Hollyhock Hill chicken dinner.
Just like how Michael Bublé has other fantastic music beyond his holiday album, I have to remember that the spirit that makes Christmas special and the love of 8 lb, 6 oz baby Jesus isn’t limited to December.
P.S. Sometimes I listen to one song again and again while I write these things so maybe it would be cool to do the same as you read it. Mat Kearney’s songs always prove to be relevant anyway. (song: Just Kids by Mat Kearney)