This morning in Mass, as I pondered our Christmas celebration I realized that like my diet I had put my faith on hiatus. Every year I begin Advent determined to keep Christ at the center. This year I even managed to do spiritual reading (and writing) almost every day - yet when the BIG Day came - *poof* Christ and all my plans to make this Christmas more spiritual, took a back seat. This slide in both important areas lead me to ponder if there was some common underlying reason these seem to happen, rather like clockwork every Christmas.
The most profound connection...TRYING TO RELIVE THE PAST
Living in the past can be wonderful as we stroll down memory lane, or participate in our yearly traditions such as recounting the origin of every ornament as we place them upon the tree. However, there are some behaviors from our past that should remain, well in the past. While it would be wonderful to eat like a 10 year old again, it is just not feasible if I want a healthy lifestyle. I am not as active as I was back my 'baton twirling, softball playing, kick the can in the backyard every night' days. At 10, I lived on Portuguese sweetbread with butter, frosting in a can, and pickles. At 45, that diet would not only make me very sick, but also cause me serious medical issues. I have 'battled the bulge' for most of my life, and I have grown to be more comfortable with the body I have instead of the one fashion magazines tell me I should have. What I struggle now is to eat right not to be thin but healthy -- I would like to do what I can to be around for my kids (and hubby) for as long as God should will it. Leading up to Christmas I had embarked on a new diet plan with great success and fervor...then from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany all bets were off! As I longed to experience the holidays as I remembered them to be through my taste-buds. Perhaps, hoping that with every bit or sip I would recapture the excitement I felt as a child.
This is exactly what happens with my faith - because my childhood memories were not wrapped up in Jesse Trees, moving Wise-men to Creche (I don't even recall having a manger in our Christmas displays), or reading Luke's Gospel. It was presents, watching Christmas specials on television (miss them and you had to wait another year for them), and baking cookies. My family was Catholic, and I do recall a few church related memories but there were no pageants, reenactments or advent countdown calendars. I was easily in my 30's before I realized the Christmas season started on Christmas Day and not the day after Thanksgiving.
So although I have the best of intentions every year, I slowly slip back into the world I know, or at least the world that all my warm, fuzzy thoughts reside in. I forget myself, lose all will-power, and slowly fade from my best laid Spiritual based plans and healthy eating regimes. In the end, however, I have not recaptured the glory years nor have I reveled in the Glory of God but instead sit New Year's Day filled with regret and even some sadness. In my melancholy, I turn back to the reason for the season, Jesus Christ. I know He has come from the God of second chances, and the One who (like no other) can restore my peace... and in Whom I find my hope again. As St. Paul so wisely reminds me:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17