the frivolity of the frivolous

Thus it is necessary to commence from an inescapable duality:
the finite is not the infinite.

Hans Urs von Balthasar

The spirit of man can endure only so much and
when it is broken only a miracle can mend it.

John Burroughs

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(statue on the grounds of Christ Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Tis the season to be merry and bright, happy and light, warm and fuzzy…
Christmas and Santa.
It’s all neatly rolled into one within the wrappings of December.
The giddy frivolity of a season which gives way to making merry while paying homage to the birth of a child.

Yet let us look more closely at a single word…

Frivolity– a noun meaning lightness, gaiety, fun, the making of merriment

yet counter that with

Frivolous–an adjective–flippant, glib, lacking worth or merit

One word divided into two of its variations, its various grammatical formations and contexts–each with very different meanings…

Christmas–the olde English—Cristes Maesse–or Mass of Christ
The sacred celebration of the Nativity or birth of Christ…the birth of the One proclaimed as the savior of mankind.

And then there is Christmas of the ho ho ho, jolly ol’ St Nick, the giving of gifts kind of Christmas…

With the introduction of Saint Nicolas, who evolved over time from a 3rd century Greek Catholic saint whose real life story of giving and providing paved the foundation for today’s more secular jolly older bearded, reindeer driving, present giving, hero of both young and old…Christmas the holy joined with Christmas the worldly, as the two became synonymous, joining as one.

And sadly today we see that the world of consumerism has run away with the latter of the two….creating part of our problem.

One word’s united meaning, the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as the season of Santa and the giving of gifts….
Yet today the word is painfully becoming estranged, polarized and oh so sadly divided.

The Christian faithful throughout the ages have always had a wonderful way of melding traditions taken form the various seasons and times of the year from their various cultures and countries, coupled with the more traditional pagan / secular celebrations of those various countries and cultures, uniting and embracing all with their Christian teachings with the end result being those yearly holy observances which blend both the religious/ holy with secular celebrations.

Lest we forgot the story from the other week regarding the celtic cross…
As St Patrick used the circle around the traditional latin cross as a bridge between the Celtic worship of the sun–uniting both sun and Son together…in turn creating the iconic Celtic Cross.

Yet mankind frustratingly always has had a knack for messing up, distorting and even destroying good intentions.
What was once a time affording all a collective remembrance of the young and less fortunate during a time which was also witness to the faithful’s remembrance of the birth of the Savior—has now tragically morphed into a self consuming monster of advertising, marketing, consumerism and a big business feeding frenzy of madness.

Couple that with the now secular overt political correctness war of words of holiday and winter celebration with the keeping of Santa, as that’s good for the economy, while in turn booting the holy Christ Child totally out of the picture as that has nothing to so with the economy….

Seems as if we greatly prefer material gifts and presents verses the one true gift of a Savior….

It is indeed a truly sad kettle of fish we have going on as law suits now abound where once stockings were hung by the chimney with care—
As the word Christmas is no longer welcomed or allowed to be associated with this “special” time of year… especially in our public governmental sector, schools, colleges, etc—
If it receives any sort of federal funding or assistance, than you can forget Christmas and the whole birth of Christ associated with it.

Lest we offend the Atheists, the Jews, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Satanists, the Wickens….who if the truth be told, buy and gather to give those “christmas” gifts…

A long long time ago when I was in elementary school, way back in the early 1960s…My school had a healthy mix of both Jewish and “Christian” kids.

When it came to Christmas, with our teacher bringing in the small tree for our classroom, as we excitedly and joyously made ornaments in order to decorate the small tree— ornaments which now poignantly hang on my own tree today, the excitement of one and all was palpable.
Names were drawn for the classroom secret santa party which culminated on the last day of school before the Christmas break.

Our teachers, in their infinite wisdom, did something great.
In addition to our classroom Christmas tree, we also had a classroom menorah. Our Jewish classmates would, for the eight days of Hanukkah, share with us their
“holiday” along with its traditions.

Excitedly each day of Hanukah we’d ooo and ahhh, as only kids in the innocence of wonder do, over the lighting of a single candle—hardly able to contain the excitement until all 9 candles were lit.
It was a reverent event and we appreciated as well as respected the importance that the lighting of those 9 candles meant and what that 8 day observance represented to our Jewish classmates… just as they appreciated our reverence for our classroom’s small nativity scene.

A marvelous teaching tool and key to helping our young minds understand, tolerate, respect as well as allowing us to develop an appreciation for one another’s spiritual customs.
As the spirituality within man is a key component to being human.

We loved hearing our classmates excitement as they shared with the entire class the receiving of each gift on the night prior during their familiy’s observation of the Festival of Light.

We were taught the dreidle song and would play for the chocolate coins while we in turn shared the various customs of Christmases form around the world…
As we would buy our Jewish classmates their secret santa gifts as they, in turn, would buy us ours—
Never was there any resentment, no forbiddance to the right to observe, share or worship, no jealousies, not animosity….but rather a collective joy found in the frivolity of a season so merry and bright, yet sadly now seemingly steeped in what has become the frivolous, the polarized, the secular, the forgotten, the worldly and the empty….

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(statue on the grounds of Christ Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:8-14

What does the Pink Pig and a messy refrigerator have in common?

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some devine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”

― Alfred Tennyson

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(a refrigerator is hiding under the tokens of a lifetime / Julie Cook /

I think it first started somewhere in-between childhood and adolescence.
This odd habit of adoring some blank canvas, in this case a refrigerator, with the important, and not so important, special mementoes of a life lived with some sort of purpose.
Perhaps it was actually earlier.
Perhaps it dates back to early childhood.
Maybe it started during the annual holiday trek downtown in order to visit and pay homage to Santa.

She was sporting a green velveteen dress, the one with the lacy white collar and tiny little holly leaves layered with the pretty red wool car-coat accented with the black velvet trim, dressed in the season’s holiday finest, the little girl was dressed to impress both Santa and grandparents alike.

The year was 1964 and the long awaited and deeply anticipated day of a very important yearly right of passage had finally arrived.
Jumping into the car, proudly sitting in between her father and mother in the front seat, as this was long before the time of required back seat riders, the little girl is more than ready to make the journey downtown.

Upon entering the massive and historic shopping mecca, proudly and hurriedly marching toward the escalator, the family ascends upward to that most special and anticipated appointment. Here they find a long snaking and winding line made up of fidgety children, crying babies and mothers and fathers who have sadly long lost any and all holiday cheer. Taking their place in line, they join the throng of humanity weaving in and out of the furniture and rug aisles on the tip top floor of the department store.

It’s a confessional line of sorts where the tiny penitent line up in order to confess all indiscretions in hopes of procuring the wealth of a heart’s desire.
Rather than a curtained lined booth where a man with a white collar sat waiting in the shadows, here a jolly old man, with long flowing white hair and beard, donning a red suit, sits perched upon a throne, beaming a broad cheek to cheek smile with arms wide open.

As grand as this moment was to be, this was not the true culmination of the yearly magical visit.

The crowning moment came when a hesitant young father escorted his now giddy 5 year old daughter to the waiting open door of the tiny pink car. Settling her in on the cold metal seat, a helper elf shuts the small door. Looking through the wire mesh of the tiny window, she waves the triumphant wave of sheer bliss to her parents as she prepares for a magical adventure. Slowly, yet determined, the long pink monorail train, known as the famous Rich’s Pink Pig, lurches into motion.

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Journeying out on to the roof top of the famous downtown department store, around the base of the giant anchored great tree, past the live reindeer caged in wooden stalls nibbling on hay and looking most out of place in this foreign southern locale, the Pink Pig slowly makes the entirely too short 3 1/2 minute circle along the track which had been in operation since 1953.

Following the ride and now proudly wearing the badge of honor, otherwise known as the Pink Pig sticker, which is strategically placed on the lapel of the red wool car-coat, the little girl, holding a crisp 5 dollar bill, enters Santa’s “secret shop” where helper elves assist children in the purchasing of presents for their parents.

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Finally arriving home late in the afternoon, after the long, yet wonderful magically full day, the little girl bounds from the car, proudly carrying the tiny wrapped Christmas presents, that of the typical tie and bottle of perfume, the same presents Santa’s elves had helped her pick out and wrap. She hurries to her room where she intends to hide the precious presents deep in the recesses of her closet–safe from any prying eyes.

Then lastly, in a final tribute to a very special day, with the deepest and most solemn reverence, fit only for the most regal and spiritual of occasions, the little girl gently pulls the sticker from the lapel of her red wool car-coat, which is now more fuzzy then sticky, and places the not so sticky sticker proudly on the antique mirror her grandmother had bought for her room, the mirror she never liked because it was much too girly and frufru, alongside the two previous Pink Pig stickers.

Stepping back, making certain the growing horizontal line of pig stickers was straight, a small smile of satisfaction crosses her face. Little did she know that she would eventually have almost ten stickers pasted upon that antique mirror before the importance of the special annual rite of passage had finally played out.

Little did any one realize that an annual adventure to a pink pig, with the resulting pasting of a couple of Christmastime stickers onto an old antique mirror, would begin the importance of commemorating and marking the oh so important remembrances of those magically special moments in life which began in a young girl’s heart—Which would eventually, in turn, continue to unfold onto an unsuspecting refrigerator in the life of a not so young woman . . .

I promise I’m going to clean it off of all the “clutter”, soon. . .

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.
Rose Kennedy

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