Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on the Texas Rally for Life, Being Singled Out, and True Gender Equality

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— 1 —

This was a quiet week but nonetheless a good one. Our kitchen light fixture started to die unexpectedly a week and a half ago, so we’ve been cooking with ambient light from the dining room, eat-in area, and oven hood. There is nothing quite like dicing onions in the dark, let me tell you. Living on the wild side!

Our landlord sent an electrician to install a whole new fixture on Wednesday. It’s very pretty, but I’m still getting used to the brightness. I had to replace the bulb in my bedroom last week, too, so I am literally walking in a whole new light.

— 2 —

I went with some married friends to the Texas Rally for Life on Saturday. It was good, in the sense that I wish it was unnecessary but I’m committed until that happens. Pro-life marches and rallies are the only political activism I ever do. It took a solid year for me to work up the courage to at least try it, and that was back in DC, where the March for Life requires taking public transportation, is held on January 22 (frequently a weekday), and promises cold and wet weather. Yet I march.

I thought this year’s speakers were much better than last year’s. I missed having Governor Abbott there, but I had no idea his daughter was adopted or that his wife has credentials for days. Abby Johnson always does a great job speaking, not in the least due to her incredible witness. It is literally incredible: her stories are terrible, but they are both true and factual. Bishop Joe gave the invocation, as he did last year. He once again managed to offer a prayer that nailed the tricky middle ground between being overtly Catholic, firmly Christian, or vaguely God-directed. I’ve tried that myself; it’s hard. I also really enjoyed the closing prayer offered by a Baptist minister. I found myself really getting into it, which is unusual. Charismatic prayer is not usually my thing, but I’ve had bigger surprises.

I decided not to make or carry a sign. I am my sign. Even if you don’t speak to me at all, you can see that I’m young and black (or at least brown). That’s the only sign I need. I march for black women who are pro-life but fear speaking up about it. I march for young women who feel like they would betray second-wave feminism if they didn’t at least tacitly support “choice.” I march for people who can’t, who won’t, or who don’t yet. And I intend to keep marching until I can’t or don’t have to.

— 3 —

One thing in particular did concern me about the Rally for Life, though. It wasn’t just that it’s effectively just the Christian Rally for Babies & Moms. That’s an issue for another day. It was the counter-protesters.

In the years I went to the March for Life in DC, it became almost a game to try to spot the counter-protesters and confirm that theirs would be the only photos to show up in the news. Every year, there were maybe 100 pro-choice protesters. I only knew that because they were inevitably photographed by the Washington Post at an angle that made their group look much larger. I never actually saw them in person, though. I was buried in the throng of literal thousands of pro-life people filling up South Capitol Street.

Here, last weekend, I gave my usual response to our pro-choice counter-protesters: I ignored them. It’s not hard to ignore a few dozen people. What really left me confused was the small counter-protest rally my friends and I passed on the north side of the Capitol building as we headed home. Don’t get me wrong: they have absolutely as much right to hold a permitted protest rally as pro-life marchers do. The problem is that I didn’t know they would be there. Granted, gathering 100 people and a sound system to match doesn’t take much. We used to do that for Ash Wednesday on campus every year at my old job. But I did some research when I got home, and I still have no idea who was in charge. Did the Texas Alliance for Life know about it? Is this going to become an annual thing until we’re battling for audio space?

If they were trying to leave me unsettled, that worked, honestly. But I’ll be back next year.

— 4 —

Last Friday, I went to dinner with some friends. It was the birthday of my former roommate’s husband. (He’s my friend, too.) I’ve missed small group dinners since our young adult group disbanded, and I don’t get to see the birthday boy and wife much, so I gratefully accepted the invitation.

The weird part came when I realized who else would be attending. My former roommate, her husband, and six of the other attendees comprise couples married in the last 19 months. My (male) friend Sam and I were literally the only unmarried people among the ten of us. Somehow, we manage to split up men and women when we gather in Catholic groups (which is not conducive to getting the single people married), so I wound up having dinner with four recently-married women.

Naturally, the conversation turned to my love life. I’m not opposed to my friends keeping me on their lists, but I still felt awkward being singled out like that. (Pardon the pun.) It was as though the group suddenly took on the mission to Get Lindsay Married. I don’t usually get that kind of pressure, not even from well-intentioned friends. It was not pleasant. Of course I want to get married, but talking about it openly and often is a recent development. Am I alone in this?

— 5 —

All these restive feelings have been balanced out by Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies. Seriously, they’re fantastic, and you should listen. I get sad thinking about how I’m eventually going to catch up and then have to wait a week between homilies, like a caveman. Until then, I am tweeting quotations as I go.

Check out that favorite!

— 6 —

I can’t stop thinking about a particular Verily magazine article, on the real meaning of feminism and equality, since I read it. The author expresses an opinion I have long since held, but she does so eloquently and personally. Here’s the excerpt that made me realize I’d found a kindred spirit:

There is something about the way that we discuss gender equality that unsettles me. Take me, for example:

I majored in economics in college because I like it and I’m good at it. I took an economics class in high school and found that my mind clicked into the subject in a way that it did not click into others. Majoring in it seemed to me like the next logical step. When I announced my decision, however, my peers and mentors encouraged and applauded me with an urgency that confused me.
“Only 15 percent of economists are female,” they exclaimed.

“We need more female economists,” they would say, “We need more women pursuing quantitative subjects.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the encouragement. I was happy that my success in economics was regarded as a necessity by my professors, advisers, counselors, and friends. But it was their collective reasoning that disturbed me. My interest and ability did not necessitate my success, according to them—my gender did. They seemed to think that because roughly half of the world’s people are women, so too roughly half of the world’s economists ought to be women. The ratio of women to men in the field is lopsided and thus, unacceptable.

It only gets better from there. Her reasoning is on point, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Check it out at Verily, and subscribe to their daily emails while you’re there. It’s one of the best items in my inbox.

— 7 —

One last tweet. I haven’t yet shared the rest of my love story with my budget, but it’s coming. Trust me. I did have a huge financial accomplishment this week, though:

In a nutshell, this means that I am now one month ahead on all my monthly expenses, including savings. I feel excited, a bit dumbfounded, and joyful. More soon. In the meantime, visit YouNeedABudget.com (referral/discount link) and start your journey to freedom.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Not Getting Hit By a Car, My Credit Report, Or Ignorance

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— 1 —

My neighbor almost ran me over yesterday.

We have central mail delivery units in my neighborhood: those big banks of mailboxes instead of the kind that go on your curb or on the house. Mine is pretty close to my house, so I usually park in my driveway and walk down there to get the mail. There’s a small street to cross, and there isn’t much traffic, but I live on the main vein into the neighborhood, so I always keep my eyes peeled for cars that aren’t expecting pedestrians. As my mother always says, if you step off the curb in front of a car doing 80 because “you have the right of way,” it’s your own fault that you get hit.

This wasn’t my fault, though.

It was dark when I got home yesterday, but the rain had slowed to a sprinkle, so I took my chances and went for the mail. My next-door neighbor (who I’ve met in the daytime and like just fine) was going for his mail, too, walking about ten seconds ahead of me. My across-the-street neighbor had pulled over next to the mailboxes, on the wrong side of the street, to get his mail, so he was climbing back into his pickup truck just as I set out. I kept an eye on the truck. I always stay vigilant. Maybe the other car didn’t signal, or you had the right of way, but if you get hit, your car’s going in the shop, too.

And if you get mowed down on foot, you’ll be in the hospital.

The truck-driving neighbor got back into his truck, and I saw his reverse lights come on. I thought, “Is he seriously going to back his truck all the way to his house?” The truck started moving, so, yes. I kept my eyes on him. He was going way too fast: too fast for a neighborhood street, too fast for after dark, and too fast in reverse. I had already started to cross the street at the corner when he started backing up, and my fast mental physics made me realize that, since he probably wasn’t looking, he was probably going to hit me.

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I drew a picture for you visual-spatial types. Click for full size.

I picked up my pace and half-speed-walked, half-skipped onto the curb. The truck driver, still in reverse, whipped around the corner backwards and stopped on a dime. I could hear the music from his truck, so it’s possible that his window was open, but I decided not to turn around. I heard him pull toward his house, this time forwards and (coincidentally?) on the right side of the street. I just kept walking.

After I got my mail, I went back to my house.

— 2 —

Stories like that make me so angry, even when they don’t happen to me. It only takes a moment or an inch for a near-miss to become a news story. What if I hadn’t looked half a block down the street I wasn’t crossing? What if I expected him to follow traffic laws? What if I had been walking a tiny bit slower (which is possible, because I walk pretty fast)? What if I hadn’t picked up my pace enough? What if I had been a child?

It’s a sad state when I have to guard myself that much against the foolish actions of other people. And now I really don’t like that neighbor.

— 3 —

Today is the last day to vote (hopefully for me) in the Sheenazing Awards! Click the photo of Venerable Fulton Sheen below for Bonnie’s blog post, which includes a link to the ballot and a list of other fantastic bloggers. I apologize now for the bloat in your preferred RSS reader and/or email inbox.

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— 4 —

If you’re into personal finance at all, now is a great time to pull a free copy of your credit report. The federal government requires all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide you with one free copy of your credit report each year. Each agency takes requests separately, though, so you can adopt my strategy and get one now, one in May, and one in October, or you can get all three right now.

The site to use is AnnualCreditReport.com. There are other sites with similar names that are not operated by the federal government or not free. This one is legit. You will have to provide your SSN and answer a few tough questions about your credit history. That makes sure it’s you. They’re so detailed that I actually had to look up the answer to one of the questions.

Also note that a credit report and a credit score are two different things. Your report shows all your credit cards (open and closed), all your loans (open and closed), mortgages, hard inquiries, etc. If anything is missing or incorrect, you have the right to contact the credit reporting agency to fix it. Your score, on the other hand, is a magical, mysterious number that I am almost convinced is produced out of thin air by dragons. (Can you tell I’m enjoying having fantasy back in my life?) If you have any tips on keeping track of that for free, I’m all ears.

— 5 —

When I went to request my credit report, I was so glad to see that AnnualCreditReport.com was finally redesigned. I planned last fall to start requesting my credit report quarterly. I wasn’t planning on getting any new credit, so I figured I could wait. I did go visit the site, though, and it was so sad. The design was stuck in 2005. It did not look authentic at all, but it was.

It is long past time to acknowledge that good website design is essential for 21st century business, and as with most things, if you want the good stuff, you will have to pay accordingly. Just do it.

— 6 —

I finally took down my Christmas tree and mini-Nativity scene on the 13th. Part of my delay was a desire to keep the Christmas spirit alive through the whole liturgical season. Part was laziness. Part was having a fake tree. (Would we have the Annual Christmas Tree Fight if fake trees didn’t exist?)

I’m torn over my cards, though. I don’t use the top of that bookshelf for much. It makes me feel so happy and loved to still have them up, although it is annoying to walk by too fast and have several topple over in the backdraft.

Maybe I need a prayer ritual like the Whitaker Family’s. It seems such a shame to go back to my boring, bare bookshelf (well, it has knickknacks), but Christmas is definitely over. Lent is less than one month away. Can I use them for Lent somehow? Any ideas?

— 7 —

usccb-9daysforlife

Today is my favorite day of 9 Days for Life so far. The intercession is “for an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.” I have half a mind to make a sign for the March for Life tomorrow that says, “Criminals have human dignity and the right to life, too. Please don’t kill them, Governor Abbot!” I have never been a fan of rally signs, though. You always get tired of them before it’s over. I’ll think about it.

I also enjoyed today’s act of reparation. I chose to use “Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism” as my motivation to read The Battle of Prayer, which Fr. Mike Schmitz recommended in his homily seven years ago but I heard in the podcast archives last week. It was enlightening. In such a short space, it covers spiritual drought, distraction, acedia (laziness), and our inclination to ask for a response to our petitions but not to our praise or thanksgiving. It’s good stuff.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Twitter, Water, and Churchy Things

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— 1 —

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Twitter is the best way to have actual (Internet) contact with actual (Catholic) celebrities? I would have joined sooner.

Look, Fr. Mike Schmitz responded to my dejected tweet about his podcast not working!

Then, when I got my latest review copy from Ave Maria Press, I tweeted about it and got this enthusiastic response from Dawn Eden!

Dawn reached out to me through my blog after I reviewed the original edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. It turns out that she went to school with my old friend Fr. Leo (who I knew before he was a priest). She was my initial connection to Ave Maria Press, and I’ve had a great relationship with the publisher and the author since.

The world is so small.

— 2 —

My mom has a habit of giving us odd gifts at Christmastime. This year, in addition to a flower-print hammer/screwdriver combo, she gave me this unique Zipster Zebra water bottle.

This is not a giant can of soda. Or Four Loko. It's my new water bottle. #truestory #thanksmom

A photo posted by Lindsay Wilcox (@whatlindsayloves) on

I forgot to add something for scale. Sorry! It’s about the size of an Arizona Iced Tea… or a Four Loko. It’s sparked some interesting conversations around the office, believe me. The best result, though, is that this bottle alone has helped me drink more water. It’s the opacity. Since I can’t see how much is left, and the double walls add more weight than I’m used to, I often find myself sadly facing an empty bottle. Then I get more water and I’m happy again. Who knew changing my tool was the key to healthy hydration?

— 3 —

I mentioned in the February part of my year in review that my diocese is developing a pastoral plan. After the SurveyMonkey and the listening sessions, they presented to the steering committee. (I’m no fool; I know they have listened but will make all the decisions. I feel the same way about this that I feel about the pastoral survey before last fall’s synod: I’m glad they asked at all!)

I’ve been trying to recap the survey results since they came out in May. The report should be released in about six weeks, so this seems like as good a time as any.

It’s a happy PDF, I must say. The respondents were 20% under age 30, almost 75% have at least one college degree, 87% go to Mass every week, and just over 50% say their faith is the most important thing in their life, all of which is fantastic (and, full disclosure: include me). Priests identify preparing people to witness (i.e. actively evangelize) as something to emphasize. Most of the news is really good news. Good job, Austin!

— 4 —

I was surprised and delighted to see that the pastoral plan survey identified preparing to witness as a potential area of emphasis for parishes. I absolutely agree.

I was in a FOCUS Bible study when I was in undergrad. They didn’t have the apologetics study yet, but we did talk about preparing a witness, a.k.a. giving your testimony. It’s not a common habit among Catholics—although we do love conversion stories—but ask evangelicals for their testimony and brace yourself for the passion!

A testimony/witness is the story of how you became a Christian (or a Catholic in particular), when you met Jesus, or how you came back. The mechanics of preparing a testimony is too much for one Quick Take, but I will say that when I started preparing mine, it not only enriched my faith, it built my confidence. I can explain how I came to faith in less than 30 seconds (the elevator pitch) or less than 5 minutes (the “tell me your story”). I’m still polishing my 30-minute pitch.

Do you have a testimony? If you have an elevator pitch, please share it in the comments!

— 5 —

<a href=”href=”http://9daysforlife.com”>usccb-9daysforlife

Tomorrow (Saturday) begins the Nine Days for Life novena sponsored by the USCCB. Sign up by email, join the Facebook event, or download the app to receive a prayer, reflection, and act of reparation for the days surrounding the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s well-written, actually doable for regular people, and not just anti-abortion (despite what the image says).

That last part is one of my pet peeves about the pro-life movement. We’ve made great strides toward showing love for and tangibly helping women and couples instead of just their babies. Now we need to also remember prisoners in danger of execution; people who are elderly, ill, or have a disability who face coercion to euthanasia; and all people who don’t feel genuinely loved simply because they exist. You shouldn’t have to earn the respect of others to stay alive.

It’s not the March Against Abortion; it’s the March for Life.

— 6 —

I didn’t do much this week, at least not in terms of calendar events. Spirit & Truth started up again on Monday. It was so good to see everyone, to hear them share their blessings, and to be with Jesus.

I went out for social hour afterwards, so I stayed out past my bedtime. That’s a literal bedtime; I have a phone/calendar alarm for it, and it went off when I took out my phone to record paying my check in the YNAB app. Staying up and out so late meant I was drained the next day, so I skipped the bigger happy hour I’d planned to attend.

I waver right on the line between introversion and extroversion. Sometimes my introvert side pops out. My Monday-to-Tuesday shuffle showed that it was out in full force this week. To recover, I stayed in and started watching my way through Merlin on Hulu.

— 7 —

I use my work IT guy to help manage my personal computing life. He emails us to alert us to Microsoft’s Update Tuesday. I use that as the reminder to do my computer maintenance and cleaning at home. I cleared off my computer desktop on impulse tonight, and I feel so free! I only have two icons: the Recycle Bin and the drop converter for PrimoPDF. Ahh.

(I highly recommend PrimoPDF, by the way. It’s free and works like Adobe Acrobat to convert documents to PDF. I use it all the time to “print” from the Internet.)

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Christmas, Cards, and Not Playing Games

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— 1 —

I have been trying to post this for so long that three weeks have gone by since my last installment! You may have noticed the delightful new logo. These takes won’t be so quick, though. I have much to share.

— 2 —

I love Christmas cards. I wasn’t able to send them in 2013 because I had only just started working full-time again. This time around, I went big: not only did I send cards, but I also had them professionally printed. Saving with YNAB helped me pay for them in cash, and I ordered on December 26 because they were on clearance (and because I waited too late before Christmas). Best decision ever. I topped off my intense life improvement in 2014 with a bang!

Since I ordered on December 26, they arrived in Austin on the 31st, and I didn’t get them in the outgoing mail until after the last pickup on January 3. All that addressing and signing by hand took time!

They made it to recipients last week. I was down to the wire of the Christmas season. Then again, my cards this year had a nativity scene including magi, so technically, they’re Epiphany cards. Thus, I sent them at the most appropriate time. (Procrastination, budgets, and liturgical seasons, unite!)

In case you didn’t get yours, here’s a digital version:

cardfront2014

Image from Vistaprint. Sentiment customized by me. Not a sponsored post; I just love this Nativity scene! (Click to view larger.)

Click to view larger.

Click to view larger.

— 3 —

When I wrote my annual “year in review” post, I was so pleased. I had to draft it early in order to choose the highlights for my Christmas Epiphany cards. Going through my calendar, my blog posts, and my (very few) Instagram photos from this year was a happy experience. After 2013, almost anything would have been an improvement, but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made toward adulthood, financial stability, regular blogging, and holiness.

Yet somehow I forgot to actually publish the post on New Year’s Eve, so I popped it up last Sunday. If you’re an email subscriber, you might not have noticed the discrepancy. On the other hand, I back-dated it after publishing to fall correctly in my archives, so if you’re reading via RSS or on the site, you might have missed it.

You can read my 2014 year in review here, pick up the RSS feed here, or subscribe by email below or in the sidebar on my home page.

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— 4 —

Speaking of mail (QT #3), my Christmas Epiphany cards were my first piece of correspondence to many of the people on my list since 2012. The rest of my mail is rent checks, the Catholic Services Appeal, and birthday cards.

For years, my custom has been to send a birthday card with a letter to my closest friends. Unlike my Christmas card list, though, I’ve taken names off my birthday card list over the years because our relationship has changed. For my extra-close friends, I still write a birthday letter.

I’ve stopped expecting replies. I have one longtime friendship that was maintained largely by real, handwritten letters. The rest of the letters I write are mostly for me. My letters are like prayer in that sense: I know they will reach the recipient, but I might never receive (or recognize) the reply.

— 5 —

In news that does not have anything to do with writing, Christmas was good. I hadn’t seen my family since the previous Christmas, so it was nice to reconnect with them.

My brother came home from his first semester of college with both ears pierced and a dragon tattoo on his shoulder. It could have been worse; he’s a football player. My sister finished her environmental science degree and is looking for a job. If you know of anything in the D.C. area, drop me a line. My grandma is doing well. She prefers to drive during the day now, as all grandmas eventually do. My parents will probably retire to Austin. They have several years to go, but I guess that gives me incentive to get married and stay here. One of my cousins is moving in with my parents, so my childhood (teenage? We moved in when I was 15) room is being handed down to my brother. It’s the end of an era. I only live in it for about one week a year, but it’s hard to wrap my heart around the feeling that a part of my life is over.

— 6 —

My family doesn’t have many Christmas traditions. We are Christmas Day people. This involves eating a lot of home-cooked food and exchanging gifts.

One tradition I’m trying to evolve since we’re all grown-ups (cf. my newly tattooed little brother) is the Christmas game. My mom organizes a game and insists we all play together. We are not a games family. We are a TV family. Anyone who wants to can watch The Santa Clause and White Christmas with me, and I even half-watched some Judge Judy with my mom while I was on my computer. But we only ever play games at Christmas.

We are also not a team game family. Pictionary was abolished some time ago. This year, Mom made a valiant attempt at a Jeopardy!-style trivia game. I enjoyed exercising my Harry Potter trivia muscles, and we all complained loudly and relentlessly. It’s tradition.

On Christmas Eve and late Christmas Day, though, we played regular grown-up games. I taught my family how to play Nertz (my absolute favorite game despite my not being very good at it), and my sister and I played Phase 10 with my mom. My brother shouted “Hertz” instead of “Nertz,” as though he wanted to rent a car, and my mom had some trouble remembering how solitaire (the backbone of Nertz) goes, but we had fun. And no one complained.

— 7 —

For the rest of my vacation, I got to see two of my good friends from college (one who lives in the area and one who was visiting her own family and her boyfriend’s), go to one of my favorite places on Earth, and spend New Year’s Eve with friends in Austin who had their baby days later. It was a good run.

I’ll save my report of 2015 activities for Friday.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Cable, Pocket, and “Happy Holidays”

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— 1 —

It’s only been a few days since my last 7QT, so forgive me if I don’t have much to report.

I’ve made my annual trip home for Christmas. Just when On Demand cable got me hooked, we lost power for about two hours this afternoon. It was almost a disaster except that the gas-powered fireplace still worked, we had battery-powered lights, and it was only a few hours. Huddled under a big blanket, I prayed a couple of rosaries I missed during the week, which kept me from being forced to converse with my family, like cavemen. (Just kidding. My dad would have just napped even if we had power. My sister was on her phone, and everyone else was out of the house.)

Now that the cable is back, we’ll be okay.

— 2 —

When I first started using Pocket, I did a ton of reading online about best practices for using it (most of which I read using Pocket; so meta). One of the blog posts I read was a surprised response by a reader who received a year-end email that he was in the top 5% of Pocket readers. Now I’ve had the same reaction, because I got the same email.

pockettop5percent2014

If only I could count all of that toward my sadly uncompleted Goodreads Challenge!

— 3 —

Based on my status, most of the people who save things to Pocket don’t actually ever watch or read them.

I read in Pocket pretty frequently. It helps me spend less time wandering down internally-linked rabbit holes. Once a month, I delete items I haven’t marked as favorites as part of my computer maintenance. That breaks the Highlights feature of the Pocket iOS app, but I have already self-curated before I put anything into Pocket, so I don’t mind.

Pocket must still keep statistics beyond what stays in the app, though, because it has a keen sense of the topics I like to read about.

pocketmostsavedtopics2014

You’ll notice that’s a decent list of the topics I blog about, too. I have decided not to be weirded out by this. Too much paranoia makes it hard to sleep at night.

— 4 —

I am not a fan of three things about this time of year. I wrote for the Not Alone Series about Christmas music before it’s Christmas. The other two are “Advent is a penitential season” and “Happy Holidays.” I will try to keep my inner Grinch contained here, but no promises!

— 5 —

Kendra went viral with her post about why she doesn’t mind “Happy Holidays.” She makes a lot of valid points. It is about business, absolutely, and it is more inclusive of whatever celebration someone might be observing. I actually do refer to holidays throughout the year as “the holiday.”

On the other hand, some of her points are reaching. I would love to think about the Immaculate Conception as one of the holidays of which I am being offered a happy experience by store clerks and company cards, but that seems like wearing rose-colored glasses. People say “Happy Holidays” because they’re afraid of offending someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas by wishing them a merry one. Buying for Christmas is still popular, traveling for Christmas is a thing, but identifying Christmas as the reason has fallen out of favor due to PC-ness and fear. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

The thing is, I don’t think there are as many people actually offended by “Merry Christmas” as people with money and power think. Like Kendra, I send cards with Christmas greetings even to people who aren’t Christian. I send them to people who, like my own family, celebrate only a secular Christmas. (I celebrate it religiously; they don’t.) I usually send them during Advent. In my experience, people who are actually offended by something say so.

For the record, when people wish me “Happy Holidays,” I just say “thank you” and smile. It’s a genuine smile. I like smiling. But I don’t return the greeting. And when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me, I say “You have a Merry Christmas, too,” which satisfies my affinity for Advent. No bullying. Real kindness shared. Done.

— 6 —

I gave a presentation at Spirit & Truth this past Monday about the O Antiphons. (I put my handout in Dropbox if you’re interested.) They are such a critical part of Advent that I took the opportunity to share some of my favorite Advent songs and raise an issue that’s been nagging at me for a few years now.

Advent is not a penitential season. Lent is a penitential season. It has specific ways of doing penance that do not apply any other time of year: the only two fast days in the entire year, required abstinence on Fridays and Ash Wednesday, no alleluias in the liturgy. It is long and has a static time period (because Easter is always on a Sunday).

Advent has some things in common with Lent. We are encouraged to go to confession, but not as heavily as during Lent. The Gloria is omitted in liturgy, but we keep the alleluia. Giving is encouraged, but it’s not central to Advent (especially because we give at Christmas, which isn’t Advent anymore). … That’s about it. No fasting or abstinence. It’s rarely four full weeks because Christmas moves through the week. Advent is about preparation. We’re preparing for the birth of Christ, supernaturally, but we’re preparing for the actual return of Christ. That’s going to literally happen someday, and you don’t know when. Prepare now, and stop “giving up something for Advent” (unless it’s a sin you should have given up sooner anyway).

— 7 —

That said, I hope you have all gotten your life in order for both of the Lord’s comings, that your Panic Saturday (the last day before Christmas) was productive and injury-free, and that you have a very Merry Christmas and/or a wonderful day.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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