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It was the first time we had Christmas alone, just Mer and I. As with this Thanksgiving, we had a blizzard that changed all our plans, postponing parties and such. (We’ve gotten blizzards like this every 8-10 years or so, but twice in one year?) It was quiet, and I was just happy that we were together, safe and warm. It was its own joy, but like most of this year, it was bittersweet. Her parents’ house is now sold. Holidays will never again be the way they were these last twenty-five years. And Christina really has a life of her own — one that I am so proud of.

We did a record amount of travel this year. And I think part of the almost-childlike contentment surrounding that is not worrying about money. For most of the year, I had very good cash flow, and household and travel concerns were offset by some inheritance. It’s an unwanted benefit and awkwardly appreciated, but not being so wallet-aware takes me back to the time I was a child and could appreciate vacations without such concerns.

Advent usually flies by too quickly to sit and contemplate, or too meager to not have concern over bills, but it seemed almost just right this year. I landed a huge project that took away all concern about end-of-year expenses, yet found the time to read some Isaiah, and now and then sit by the lit advent candles. We had hoped to go to Midnight Mass at St. Casimir’s with our friend David (“Newmie”), but it was canceled, of course.

Speaking of Isaiah, reading Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” may have spoiled it for me, his reasoning being that the “Prophets” were just the dueling propagandists of the Two Kingdoms.Even if it were not so, it’s depressing material. I used to read snippets of it as a child when I was gifted a Jerusalem Bible – likely the same one I read from today. A few years back I started from the beginning and now have gotten to the chapters just before the subsection “Armageddon” … I may have to rethink my childhood sentiments and if I really want to continue them thusly.

Or perhaps Christmas is meant to be the newfound hope that is a bittersweet reward of our darker moments …