#7QT: Six Quick Takes and a Rant

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Welcome to Seven Quick Takes Friday, hosted by Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Be sure to stop by her place and check out the other Quick-Takers.

~1~

It’s been forever since I’ve participated, but, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Small Success post, I’m trying to write more consistently. Part of why I pared back on my activities was not to get to higher levels on Panda Pop, but to write more. And write I shall. I’ve set a goal to finish my book before the end of the year. (At least the draft I’m working on.)

~2~

I’ve been doing Catholic Sistas’ Advent Instagram challenge. I challenged my daughters to do this, too, but so far only my younger daughter has done it. I think being a student and working 20-25 hours a week is keeping the 17 year-old busy enough. But I’m enjoying having something to focus on each day on Instagram instead of posting a million pictures of Frodo Waggins.

"Aw, Nice Lady! Don't you want to post pictures of me every day?"

“Aw, Nice Lady! Don’t you want to post pictures of me every day?”

~3~

I’m nearly done Christmas shopping, which makes me glad. I did a lot online, but I also did a lot throughout the year. I really do try to keep an eye out for things that are unusual and that Nathan or the girls would like and then keep them on hand for birthdays and Christmas. I have a few stocking stuffers to get for the kids, plus an exchange or two to make, and then I’m good! It has helped me really slow down during Advent when I have little-to-no shopping to do. When I was doing all of the shopping after Thanksgiving, it only made me get sucked into the consumer mentality that surrounds our society’s ideas of Christmas.

~4~

Speaking of consumer mentality at Christmas…

My parents were so generous and purchased a Holy Family from Fontanini for me this year. I have dreamt of starting a Nativity set like this for at least twenty years, but never seemed to have the money for it when the time came. (Stuff keeps coming up, like broken well pumps and pressure tanks or medical bills.) I am so excited to have this beautiful set, and I told my parents that I would easily find a creche for the Holy Family because I have seen them every year at Michael’s (a craft store).

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I went to Michael’s in search of one: nothing. There was a single set in a box, but no individual pieces like the ones I’ve seen every year (including last year). I looked at JoAnne Fabric (because they also carry a lot of craft supplies). No nativities.  I went to WalMart: no nativity sets whatsoever! I went to Target: not a single nativity set, unless you counted the handful of snow globes mixed in with copious snowmen and Santa and reindeer.

I am flabbergasted! No one carries nativity sets? Seriously? And I live in the BIble Belt!

Oh, but every store has plenty of stuff like this:

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Because nothing says “happy birthday, Jesus” like Darth Vader and Storm Troopers. (People do remember that these are the bad guys, right?)

There is a Christian bookstore near the mall, but they’re anti-Catholic and I hate to go give them money so they can continue to spread lies about the Church. (The only books they have on Catholicism are all in the section on Cults.)

So no creche this year. I’ll see about ordering one from our parish bookstore next year.

But still, it’s amazing to see that in America we don’t even pay lip service to what Christmas is about.

~5~

I did manage to find Christmas cards at WalMart, as opposed to Santa-snowflakes-snowy trees-season’s greetings cards. They actually carry a large selection of Dayspring cards, which was nice. I can’t afford the beautiful Knights of Columbus cards this year, so I went cheap. But the cheap ones are better than ignoring everyone. Now I just need to finish the Christmas letter and buy more Christmas stamps with Mary and Jesus, and I’ll be ready to have the production line that stuffs and seals all the cards.

It’s funny, I mentioned to my 14 year-old that I’ve been mailing cards to my friends and family since I was in high school. I think I was about 16 when I started. I used to hand-write a note in every card, but opted for the Christmas letter when I realized I was writing the same 3 paragraphs in all 100 cards. (Save the hand! Use a printer!) So now I write a letter and print out labels for the envelopes. But I still try to write something in most of the cards we send out each year.

~6~

I’ve twice mentioned that well pump. I don’t have the energy to get too detailed, but I’ll give the short version. I got home from my Dominican meeting last Saturday and went to wash my hands, only to find that we had no water at all. Nathan said he’d heard a small “bang” in the utility room, but thought nothing of it and went about working on the Honey Do list. At this point, it was about two o’clock in the afternoon, and I started making desperate phone calls to find someone — anyone! — who could come and look at the well and tell us what was happening. We started praying that it was something small, based on the price range I saw when I looked up well pump replacements. Finally, I reached someone who could immediately come out and take a look. Turns out that the pump went bad because the pressure tank went bad, and we didn’t know what to listen/look for. (If we ever sell this house and move, I’m determined to make up a packet of information about the various workings of our home with information on what to look for to catch problems when they’re small.)

The pressure tank had been cycling on and off for months and burned out the pump. The bill came to more than we could pay, and we had to eat humble pie and ask our parents for help. In 22 years of marriage, we have never had to ask for help like that, but when we added up our emergencies that we’ve been paying for over the last two years, it was immediately clear why we had no money in our emegency fund any more. So we had to ask for help. There’s a lesson there, I’m sure. Probably in the humility area.

God will see us through, and He’ll use our family to help us when necessary. This, too, shall pass. We haven’t had to make the kids give up their couple of activities, we have food on the table every night, and there’s a roof over our heads.

Oh, and we have water, thank God. That’s kind of important.

~7~

If you’re new to my blog, you might not know about my Jesse Tree resource page. I talked about our family’s tradition of using the Jesse Tree to slow down and really contemplate the meaning of Advent here. We start ours on December 1 because it’s consistent each year. We had tried to use a set of ornaments that went from the first Sunday of Advent, on, but there were always a pile of ornaments (granted, paper ones) left over because that fourth week of Advent is usually weird.

"[A] shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom."

Anyway, feel free to check out those resources and use the Jesse Tree to help your own children understand Advent a little more.

Have a great weekend!

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