December 26, 2014

No Quick Takes - Have a "Larry" Christmas

I'm not doing Quick Takes on the Friday after Christmas. Instead, for your holiday pleasure, enjoy Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales singing Oh Santa:

 

 

 

December 24, 2014

Dear Little Sister: A Christmas Letter [ACNM]

It's a little late in the game to issue you an Advent challenge. Instead, as my gift to you this Christmas Eve, I'm turning over this blog space to a distinguished guest author: my eight-year-old daughter.

First, some background information: In our household we've always tried to focus much more on Jesus than Santa during Advent and Christmas. I want to tread lightly here because what, how and when children learn about Santa is a decision best made by individual parents. So I don't intend to blatantly spill any secrets here. But I will say that my daughter has always felt "important" knowing the real deal about Santa.

She knows that others have different thoughts about Santa and is careful not to spoil things for anyone else. And I'm not just talking about other kids. A couple of years ago after Christmas Mass, the priest knelt down and asked her if Santa came to her house and brought her gifts. She smiled and adorably and innocently dodged the question because she didn't want to ruin it for the priest just in case he was still waiting for the jolly guy in a red suit to squeeze down the chimney in the rectory.

Just the other day we attended Breakfast with Santa at our parish. Santa himself asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Just like with the priest, she artfully danced around the question not wanting to reveal anything to Santa that might surprise him and Mrs. Claus.

Now, let's get back to the main point. My younger daughter is two. So this year the big one decided to give the little one some sisterly advice and explain how some families celebrate Christmas differently. She made a Christmas card for her little sister. Now I will share with you the text of that card.

Merry Christmas
To: [Little Sister]
From: [Big Sister]
Dear [Little Sister],
Understanding that this is only your [third] Christmas that maybe you might not know what to do. I decided to make a story for you about Christmas in two ways. The way that some people celebrate Christmas, and the way that we celebrate it. So get comfortable and read the two stories.
Love,
[Big Sister]
Story 1 - How other people celebrate it
You may write a letter to Santa Claus and expect to see maybe no cookies on the plate you made, with no milk in the cup for drinking and no more whatever you put in the plastic bag for Rudolph.
Story 2 - How we celebrate it
You would go to church that Sunday or the next and go to relatives' house or them come to you. You would celebrate at the fact that Jesus was born about, I don't know how many years ago it was, but... you know.

[For the rest of this post, please hop over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

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December 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 102 (Call hopping, cheap gift, penny pincher and more)

ONE: Have you ever had your phone call hijacked by someone else's Bluetooth? It happened to me on Wednesday night on the way home from my daughter's Christmas play. My wife and kids were in one car, and I was in another because I met up with them directly after work. While I was on the phone with my brother, he suddenly stopped hearing me and started hearing my wife and kids talking. Apparently, when my car got close enough to my wife's, her Bluetooth wrestled the call away from mine since my phone is paired to both cars. Weird.

TWO: There are certain advertisements that are totally unappealing to me as an introvert. I'm not a Verizon customer, but this ad popped up in my Twitter timeline recently:

 

No loyal introvert would buy a product that has "extravert" in the name.

THREE: I also winced when I received an ad from my health insurance company asking me if I want to live my my life to the fullest.

 

No, I don't!

FOUR: Looking for an affordable Christmas gift for your pet? Buy something cheap. Or in this case, cheap cheap:

 

FIVE: During a family shopping trip at the Bealls store last weekend, a woman asked if she could cut in front of me in the checkout line just to ask a quick question. I said yes, and she asked the cashier where she could find something cheap in the store because she was only one cent away from qualifying for a coupon. It reminded me of the pre-Amazon Prime days when sometimes you'd need to buy something else for a few cents just to qualify for free shipping.

SIX: In my next post for Austin Catholic New Media, I'm going to share with you the text of a Christmas card that my older daughter made for my younger daughter. She wanted to explain to her little sister the real meaning of Christmas. Come back here to Adam Introvert on Christmas Eve to check it out.

SEVEN: I won't be doing a 7 Quick Takes post on the day after Christmas next week. But I'll try to post one of our family's favorite Christmas videos. In the meantime, if you need some Christmas cheer you can re-visit my post from Christmas last year.

EPILOGUE: For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum.

 

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December 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 101 (CAPTCHA conundrum, repulsive wrapping, wrong highway and more)

 

1. Sometimes the CAPTCHA security features on website are a pain because it's not always easy to decipher the letters and numbers. But the one I came across the other day was utterly ridiculous. Be my guest if you can figure this one out.

2. I'm available if you need help wrapping Christmas presents. Here's a sample of my work. Pretty impressive, huh?

3. One toy that's not likely to be one of this year's hottest Christmas gifts for the kids is Varicose Veins Barbie, inadvertently created by two-year-old daughter when she went on a minor rampage with the markers.

4. We attended our church's annual Breakfast with Santa last Saturday morning. Knowing that in our household we focus far more on Jesus than Santa this time of year, someone asked me why we still brought our kids to see Santa. The answer was easy. We may not "do" Santa, but we're happy to "do" breakfast.

5. They served Capri Sun at the Santa event, and I laughed at the product's silly marketing ploy. The little pouches now have clear bottoms so you can "see the goodness." What goodness are you supposed to see in fake juice?

6. I think somebody accidentally got into the wrong line while I was waiting for confession at our parish the other day. He was wearing an AC/DC Highway to Hell concert t-shirt. But the line for confession is supposed to lead you somewhere else!

7. I delved a little bit into my conversion story in my latest post for Austin Catholic News Media. Check it out right over here.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum. See you next Friday.

 

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December 10, 2014

He Waited for Me, So I'll Wait for Him [ACNM]

I waited and waited and waited, then God finally showed up about three decades later. Actually, I have that backwards. It's the Lord who waited so long for me, and I finally showed up. With all that waiting in mind, Advent is a prudent time to ponder the past and prepare for the future.

My entire conversion story is a lengthier tale for another time. But I like to reflect on the highlights during the Advent season because, retroactively, I recognize that I spent so many years preparing to find my faith.

As best I can remember, there was not a particular focus on any faith in my household when I was growing up. But there are plenty of pictures of me and my brother in front of our family Christmas tree.

I'm the cute one - December 1974

 

And there's even a photo or two of me in front of a menorah. My paternal grandparents were Jewish, so when I was little our family got together with them for Hanukkah celebrations.

A future Catholic's first Hanukkah - December 1971

 

The ancestors on my mother's side were Catholic. So when I was little I used to tell people that I was "half Jewish and half Catholic." Of course, in reality I was neither. At the time, I thought Christmas and Hanukkah were primarily opportunities to get presents.

To add to the irony, when I was about fourteen I played Joseph in a live nativity scene at the "All School Sing." I stood diligently next to Mary, carefully watching over the doll that was acting in persona Christi in the manger. If only I had known how powerful a scene this was at that moment.

An Unlikely Joseph - December 1985

 

Growing up I spent part of several summers at a Christian summer camp where I experienced several new things: prayers before meals, daily devotions and Sunday services. Clearly there was something about this experience that was appealing. But once I returned home, I didn't put what I was learning into practice. I equate it to trying to learn a new language. If you don't practice, you'll lose it.

I spent three of my four high school years at a Catholic school. I don't recall that Catholic values were in any way ingrained into the curriculum. To my untrained mind, it felt more like a school that happened to be Catholic rather than a Catholic school. But there was a requirement, albeit a loosely enforced one, to attend Mass once a week. I did so, every now and then. I liked the structure of Mass, though I had no idea what it really meant and took no action to learn more. What a wasted opportunity!

There was far less religious influence during my college years. I attended a Methodist school, but the only time I can remember stepping into the chapel was the day I graduated because the chapel was the staging area where the graduates lined up.

[To read the rest of this story, please jump over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

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December 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 100 (Stooge tree, card chomper, choke-worthy coffee and more)

--- 1 ---

As usual, I spent a chunk of time at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend dragging our Christmas decorations out of the garage. I'm sorry to say that my Three Stooges Christmas ornaments didn't make it onto the tree again this year.

--- 2 ---

One of the recipients on our Christmas card list may receive a slightly used -- or slightly eaten -- Christmas card, unless we ordered a few extras. My two-year-old got ahold of the box and started chomping on one of the cards.

 

--- 3 ---

If it's not a well-known fact, then it should be: Never in the history of mankind has a little coffee maker in a hotel room produced a good cup of coffee. I gave this one a chance (after cleaning it first) when we stayed in a hotel on Thanksgiving. How did it taste? Yuck.

--- 4 ---

That reminds me of one other place where the coffee is never good: on an airplane. Whenever I order coffee on a plane, I always regret it but drink it anyway so I don't have to hang on to a full cup until trash time.

--- 5 ---

I bravely and heroically joined my wife and kids on a shopping excursion at the Hobby Lobby recently. The last thing we looked at were picture frames. And I couldn't help but wonder if this poor (model) bride's dress was itchy.

 

--- 6 ---

I am amused by the plumber who signs his name "plumber." Check out this sign I saw near a communal sink:

I guess if he had just signed his name "John" then nobody would have known he was a plumber. Or if he had signed his name "John the Plumber" then maybe that "Joe the Plumber" guy (is he still famous?) would have sued him.

--- 7 ---

All my life I thought the plural form of the word "cow" was always "cows." Then I saw this while playing Words with Friends. Who knew?

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

 

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7 Quick Takes - Vol. 100 (Stooge tree, card chomper, choke-worthy coffee and more)

--- 1 ---

As usual, I spent a chunk of time at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend dragging our Christmas decorations out of the garage. I'm sorry to say that my Three Stooges Christmas ornaments didn't make it onto the tree again this year.

--- 2 ---

One of the recipients on our Christmas card list may receive a slightly used -- or slightly eaten -- Christmas card, unless we ordered a few extras. My two-year-old got ahold of the box and started chomping on one of the cards.

 

--- 3 ---

If it's not a well-known fact, then it should be: Never in the history of mankind has a little coffee maker in a hotel room produced a good cup of coffee. I gave this one a chance (after cleaning it first) when we stayed in a hotel on Thanksgiving. How did it taste? Yuck.

--- 4 ---

That reminds me of one other place where the coffee is never good: on an airplane. Whenever I order coffee on a plane, I always regret it but drink it anyway so I don't have to hang on to a full cup until trash time.

--- 5 ---

I bravely and heroically joined my wife and kids on a shopping excursion at the Hobby Lobby recently. The last thing we looked at were picture frames. And I couldn't help but wonder if this poor (model) bride's dress was itchy.

 

--- 6 ---

I am amused by the plumber who signs his name "plumber." Check out this sign I saw near a communal sink:

I guess if he had just signed his name "John" then nobody would have known he was a plumber. Or if he had signed his name "John the Plumber" then maybe that "Joe the Plumber" guy (is he still famous?) would have sued him.

--- 7 ---

All my life I thought the plural form of the word "cow" was always "cows." Then I saw this while playing Words with Friends. Who knew?

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

 

 

Read more ...