December 6, 2008 – ‘Tis the Season

Hi again.  I’m back from my one-week “blogging hiatus”.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving celebration with your family.  As usual, I ate way more than my share of food, but this year I can use the excuse that it is one way that I can help the economy.

With Thanksgiving now past preparations are in high gear for Christmas.  I had mentioned a few weeks back that it seems for me anyway that Christmas doesn’t quite seem to have the feel and the spirit that it did when I was younger.  I think part of the reason is because there are so many tasks that come with getting ready for the holiday – doing the shopping, making the cards out, getting the decorations up, etc., etc.  And all of the sudden Christmas is upon us and we wonder where the time went.  I think God has a way for us to combat the hustle and bustle of the season – Advent.  There are a lot of good Advent resources and reflections to be found online and elsewhere that allow us to pause for a few minutes and ponder the true meaning of the season.  In fact, if you go to www.maryhoc.org and click on the featured link it will provide you with a lot of advent readings and activities.  I also encourage you to attend the Advent Penance Service on December 15 as another means to keep our focus where it should be and to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Savior.

Well the cold weather is certainly doing its part to get everyone into the holiday mood.  When we seperate the seasons we usually associate them with the weather – the warmth of summer and the chill of winter for example.  But I march to the beat of my own drummer and seperate the seasons by sport – the optimism of spring training in baseball, the thrill of fall when football arrives.  Right now we are in one of my most favorite seasons – a heavy dose of football and also college basketball in full gear.  I’m not a big fan of pro basketball, but I love to watch high school and college games.  I like college games in particular not just because of the players, but also the coaches provide entertainment and inspiration.  I’m not a big admirer of Bobby Knight for example, but he was certainly entertaining to watch and there are some legendary stories about him.  For example, back in the 80’s one of his best players, Steve Alford, missed a free throw that would have sent a game into overtime.  The next day he asked him why he thought he missed that shot.  Alford, being very religious, said that it must have been God’s will.  Knight got in his face and said” Look, God is not going to parachute down here and put the ball in the basket for you.  You have to do it, Steve!”.  I share this story with all of my religion classes because I think it is a good reminder that God gives us many gifts, but it is up to us to use them in a positive way.

Also, if you have watched ESPN this week, they have focused on Jim Valvano who died some years back of cancer.  He was known for his inspirational speeches and for getting the most out of his players.  A few months before he died, he received an award and gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard.  In the speech he said to be sure to do three things each day: 1) Be sure to take time to laugh, 2) Be sure to take time to think, and 3) Take a moment to get so emotional that you shed tears, whether they be tears of joy or tears of sorrow.

Some may think that watching sports is a waste of time, or that there are more important things we can do, but I enjoy them because there are so many inspirational stories to be had, and it is a great release from the rigors of the “real world”.  We hear a lot of the negative about athletes, but if you dig a little deeper I think the good far outweighs the bad (even when trying to watch a Rams game!).

Enjoy your holiday preparations, and stay warm.  Peace.

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