By Alvin Peters
I placed the last of the Christmas decorations in the box. I stood, stretched my back, and looked around. The joyous, festive look of the living room was gone. The tree, the crèche, the dancing Santa in his tropical outfit and the wreaths were all put away. With a sigh, I pulled the plug on the Christmas lights near the roof.
The living room now looked plain and ordinary. That reminded me of what the Church is celebrating now, Ordinary Time.
Is that a cause of celebration? I mean, we celebrate when something special has happened like a birthday, a wedding, a promotion, the West Indies cricket team on a winning streak, baptism, or something like that. ‘Ordinary’ means normal, typical, expected. Where’s the fun in that?
My daughter skipped into the room. She looked around for a while, then looked at me, folded her arms and pouted. I knew she wanted me to know that she was upset, and I should take her seriously, but she looked so cute.
“What’s wrong Kizzie?” I asked trying not to laugh.
“Why did you take down the Christmas stuff, Daddy?”
“Christmas is over, so we have to put them away for another year.”
“What are we celebrating now?” she asked.
“Well, nothing really. We are now in Ordinary Time.”
“What will we do during Ordinary Time?” She said the words ‘ordinary time’ very slowly trying to figure out the meaning of the words.
“Well, we will go to church like we usually do.”
“Can we have nice things to eat and presents and sing Parang and [carols]?” she asked with a hopeful smile.
“No,” I replied touching her cheek, “we won’t.”
She stood there silently for a moment. Her pout returned and she said, “That’s kinda boring, Daddy.” She walked out of the room. I agreed with her. That is kinda boring.
I went to the fridge to console myself with a glass of sorrel when I stepped on something pointy and hard. I yelped in surprise and pain and hopped around quietly muttering words that would probably make Pope Francis cry.
When the pain subsided, I looked with teary eyes for the culprit and saw that I missed one of the Christmas tree ornaments. It was a miniature sculpture of the Nativity. Thank goodness I didn’t break it with what my wife calls my ‘plank foot’. I probably would’ve never heard the end of it.
This ornament is very special. Her mother gave it to her, before she died five years ago, as a wedding gift. Every year, she would look at it lovingly and share some cherished memory from her childhood.
Throughout the story, she would smile sometimes with a bit of sadness and when she was finished, would laugh in embarrassment, and then ask me if she was being silly.
I picked it up, hobbled into the kitchen, and placed it on the counter. I poured myself a glass and looked at the ornament. I recalled the meaning of the Feast Day of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph’s lives seemed ordinary.
A typical, young, Jewish woman married an everyday, hard-working man and gave birth to a normal, healthy boy. They lived a simple life in a small town of no consequence.
Yet, this pure, obedient woman, listened to the will of God and gave birth and raised our Saviour while under the protection of a brave and faithful husband who did not care that he was raising a child who was not his own.
But living that life, as the ‘chook’ under my ‘plank-foot’ reminded me, was not always joyful. There was the daring escape from slaughter by Herod’s men, the death of a loving husband, watching your son being praised then ridiculed, called a madman, a traitor and then sentenced to suffer and die. Between those ordinary moments, there were periods of great happiness and also sorrow.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus may look like an average family, but God made them more than that when He called them to live holy lives.
I wondered if my family and I can live like that. There will be normal, typical moments punctuated with times of happiness and times of disappointment and also pain. How do I show my daughter that she was not born to live a dull existence but to be special, to be extraordinary?
Maybe instead of ‘going to church’, we can participate in the Mass. I can check the parish website to find out what my family and I can do to help. During the week, we can celebrate in some way while we do ordinary things like our chores and cooking. We could just have fun for no reason at all. I can’t accept that God wants our lives to be insipid and dull.
My wife came in as I looked at the ornament deep in thought. She asked, “Why didn’t you put it away?” I replied, “Because some things should not be put away just because Christmas is over.”
She gave a look of confusion. I poured her a glass of sorrel and made a toast, “To an ordinary yet wonderful life.”