Monday, November 29, 2021

Raining Donuts

I tip-toed into the dark bedroom and gently shook my sleeping children. "It's time to wake up for Mass," I whispered. "And then donuts." One child sat straight up and immediately began talking about donuts. Ah, the plan worked, I thought to myself. Waking my children in the very early morning, to attend early morning Mass on a weekday, went so much smoother with the promise of donuts. 

Before we knew it, the children and I were dressed and zooming across the city in the minivan. We scampered into the daily Mass chapel and prayed peacefully throughout Mass. Since we've had some rough daily-Mass-going experiences lately, I was pleasantly surprised by my childrens' calm. After Mass, they excitedly told the priest about how we would go eat donuts, and soon we were zooming back across the city to a donut shop. 

Unfortunately, our favorite donut shop was closed, so I had to find a different one (with good ratings). We parked, the kids dashed into the store, and I was greeted with a lovely sign that said only cash would be accepted for orders below $5.  I don't carry cash with me, so it was back to the car to scrounge up any and all loose change. We re-entered the donut shop, and while my children excitedly stood in front of the case and tried to decide what they wanted, I scattered a variety of pennies, dimes, and nickels across the table to try and count how much money I had...and then try to figure out if it would be enough to cover the particular donuts that my children requested. After counting and re-counting and re-counting (along with my children changing their minds a couple of times), I finally decided that we'd just buy more donuts than we "actually needed" so that I could pay with my card. Moments later, happily filled with donuts (and with some donuty goodness left over to snack on throughout the day), we went home to change into our "day clothes" before going to a story time at the park. 

Attendance at story time was low; it included our family, a woman with her granddaughter, and the librarian in charge. Then, another family showed up: a young mom corralling her five children (all under the age of six) and carrying two dozen donuts. 

It was raining donuts that morning, and I'm not necessarily complaining. 

Interestingly, I have been thinking a lot about how my life is comfortable. Too comfortable, in some ways. Fasting and acts of self-denial (both large and small) have always been a part of the Christian life, and I love how these practices counter the comfort that we experience, and remind us that our ultimate home is not this world, but in Heaven with God. 

In reality, though, it's tough to navigate. When the past however-many-years have been spent either pregnant or breastfeeding a small child, it's hard for me to figure out how to practice small acts of asceticism now that I'm not pregnant or really breastfeeding a baby all that much (currently, Little Miss only nurses twice a day, and both sessions are very short). I'll find myself thinking of the bread-and-water fasts of college or pillowless Lents, but as a stay-at-home mom of only young kids, those types of sacrifices aren't very realistic. After all, I need both nutrients and sleep to power through each day with my little ones. Many times, I've thought about how my whole life is basically one of self-denial and sacrifice, and how I don't "need" to do anything "extra." At the same time, I've lately been yearning for something more, and I don't know what that is yet. 

It's deliciously wonderful when it rains donuts, but if that happened every day, I'd soon get sick and tired of it. Feasting is exciting, but it's made all the more glorious when it's preceded by a fast.

Our home is currently littered with stray toys and nativity pieces, a bare tree sits atop our table, and an array of Advent and Christmas books peek from the corners of the living room. Our pastor wore purple at Mass yesterday. "Purple for preparation," as my three-year-old observed...and purple for penance. Advent, while being a joyous time of preparation for Christmas, is also a time for penance and austerity. I've leaned into this theme more and more over the past few years, and celebrating Christ's birth at Christmas has grown even more joyful, more glorious, when I've tried to adopt a simple and penitential-ish approach to Advent. 

My oldest child was very excited to begin moving
Mary & Joseph closer to the manger this morning :)

I still don't know what Advent will look like this year, aside from the prayer practices that I've been doing so far (my Advent devotional has already begun, since it starts 40 days before Christmas) and what I hope to slowly add on. I'm sure God will surprise me (he always does). For now, though, I'm content to begin this liturgical year by pondering how I can pull myself out of the abundance of comfort and complacency that fills my life, and to see where God leads me. 

I hope you all have a beautiful and peaceful start to Advent as we prepare to welcome Christ into our homes and hearts in a renewed way.  

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