When I was a child Christmas began not after Thanksgiving but the day the first “wish book” catalog arrived. Sears and JC Penny had the best ones and there were other ones too. From the day each one arrived, my brothers, sisters and I would turn the pages with our imaginations in full gear. Initially each of us was given only a limited time each to view and wish. Some pages became dog eared and others had initials and numbers identifying who and the order of their desires. Eventually the catalogs lost their allure and were available for long term dreaming. I imagined playing with dozens of the trucks, army forts complete with armies and numerous other intricate displays. There were enough to wet my imagination and I did not let on what my favorite was. Often my favorite changed with the day.
As I grew older my taste in toys and dreams changed. Between my brothers, sisters, cousins and neighbors the entire wish book catalog eventually became available if only for an hour or two. Many of them were much more fun to play with in my imagination than reality. And there were those my imagination came in second.
Besides toys my imagination wandered into wondering why the Creator of the universe would become one of us, born as a poor kid in a barn. I did like the barns at my Dad’s childhood home. They were comfortably warm from all the animals, even in the cold tundra of northwestern Minnesota and the smell of fresh hay and straw was a great place to hide and nap on a cold winter’s day. He chooses to be poor and begin as a baby made a certain sense to me after all the babies I met had special privileges.
Father Julian Carron is a Spanish priest and a professor of theology at the University of Milan. He wrote:
The true protagonist of history is the beggar. If we wish to live this moment as protagonists, that is, without being formal, by following the manner in which we have been educated, each of us must become, or better, recognize what he is: a beggar.
It is easy: each of us must realize his need. The beggar is the one who is aware of his own human need.
One instant of true awareness would suffice to make us realize how needy we truly are. To become aware of one’s own need means to become aware of oneself, of the fact that he is a man. The beggar, therefore, is the man who is most self-aware. And in order to be aware, we must use reason even today, or better, especially today. We therefore begin to be protagonists when we begin to use reason, which means becoming aware of reality, aware of what I am according to all the factors.
So the beggar is not the one who is most naïve, but who is most realistic. And, consequently, as we begin to defeat the confusion that surrounds and penetrates us, nothing can hinder us from becoming aware of ourselves in the present moment.
We have no fear of looking at our need, of recognizing that we are needy, because of what has happened in our lives. Yes, we can look with sympathy on what is human because Someone has embraced us; we can look with sympathy on our nothingness because Someone has had pity on it: “I have loved you with an eternal love and I have had pity on your nothingness.” It is this awareness that can help us to live this gesture. It is this awareness of standing before a Presence which permits us to take on an attitude of expectation.
The word that must govern, the attitude that must govern in all of us is “expectation,” the expectation of what will be given to us … The beggar has only one option: asking. Our expectation is one that becomes asking. Asking for what? Asking for the willingness to accept and welcome everything that will be given to us today.
– Father Julian Carron
I have paid attention to my expectations. Adjusting them on purpose or accident is your choice. I have noticed expectations are the key to happiness and satisfaction. Have a spectacular and wonderful Christmas. Let’s all make the coming year our best one ever!