Those Christmas Cards

In the air.

There was something in the air. ..two kids, two jobs, a house, a tenant, a huge extended family — what in “Zorba the Greek” Nikos Kazantzakis had described as “the full catastrophe.”

The “how.” In lives. How it all happens.

About the “how.” There were schools, colleges, to form young men and young women into whatever it was that they and their parents hoped them to “become.” With college mandates about the total number of the core requirements, and credit hours to achieve a major. Those core requirements to be identified by a department, dealing with authority. And then hours required to have a minor. To know about the world. To be known in the world. The Becoming. And what then followed after college.

Becoming. The project of becoming. How was “it” coming along? This year? It was still going on? Outside of school?

About the ‘becoming.’ And marrying. And how it was now coming along. There was no school to teach how to have a good union. Where people made their own luck –or it came in the form of a spouse. In a relationship. There was seldom ever a discussion about what a good marriage would mean. The vow to have and to hold. The vow to love and to cherish. In sickness and in health. Optimistic, cocky and vague, wrote Elizabeth Weil last week in the New York Times Magazine, concerning her own concept of relationship, and the reasons for marrying. Thinking little about the expectations in marriage, or about the reasons for being married now. There was never a discussion about what had been witnessed every day from a parent’s marriages – if the long lasting one.

Union. In a New York Times piece about her marriage, Elizabeth Weil wrote that her marriage was “utterly central to my existence, yet in no other important aspect of my life was I so laissez-faire. Like most of my peers, I applied myself to school, friendship, work, health and, ad nauseam, raising my children. But in this critical area, marriage, we had all turned away. I wanted to understand why.”

Oh, the everyday challenge of love. As two people from two homes try to merge their ideas, with two personalities, of what is an appropriate environment for their kids. Like Abe Lincoln wrote about union, which endures. So Elizabeth Weil asks, “What would a better marriage look like? More intimacy? More intriguing conversation? More laughter?” And then she asked how to reach the goal? Of more happiness? With greater intimacy? Stability? Laughter? More excellent sex? About becoming fully human?

The how. It was her idea to improve her union. Concerning the core requirements. She talked about the idea that it was over time that you really became married. Learning within the marriage institution. Over time. In friendships. In lives. In love. The mutual need. For personal experience. And few people thought about how to improve the union.

How did it all happen? The project, THIS do-it-yourself project of becoming? Becoming and the ‘how’ …dealing with a spouse, dealing with the new mandates, dealing with authority, in life. Coming from two different families, with two different concrete examples of marriage — one visible, the other invisible. One oh so very personal experience. About the right way. The visible, the other invisible, with the practical and the impractical. And that was before the idea about the how to raise kids.

In the air. Living in captivity, like the last of what kind of bird? The personal experience of – based upon scarcity, limits, and human needs. Like the project of becoming a Santa Claus? Elizabeth Weil described what can become “a barbaric competition over whose needs get met” as two people try “to make a go of it on emotional and psychological supplies that are only sufficient for one.” Elizabeth Weil wrote, “And as I lay there, I started wondering why I wasn’t applying myself to the project of being a spouse.”

A better union? What were the core requirements? Oh, the everyday challenge of love! And the full catastrophe. And spouses often assume roles of the adversary. What would a better world look like? With more intimacy? With the themes of fertility and inheritance. With the vow to have and to hold? In our shared personal experience. With the vow to love and to cherish? In sickness and in health. And the sacrifices, dealing with mutual authority. And with two different concrete examples of religious traditions, for this generation, contemplating the core requirements for spiritual needs.

With a humility about it all, the project of the Christmas cards, and reporting about how the becoming was coming along? On the Christmas cards. About the intimacy. How are we doing, learning a new perspective? Especially the men. How did we go about learning it all? How to be married? With light and darkness. With power. Generated power. In lives?

Thinking great thoughts. Having one great spouse. And writing about it all. Dealing with the spouse. In real life. Who is she/he? What is she/he? Why is she/he? In my “barbaric competition over whose needs get
met,” how long does it take to recognize? How many Christmases?

The “how.” And wanting to understand the “why.” About the how and why it all happened. In the form of a spouse. In a relationship. Visible. And invisible. This desire to get closer. With others. And to remember some parts of the story that fit into my current life. The historical part. The names of historical people. Marriage licenses. The civil registration of births. With real government. A lot like all those real Minnesota governors. Or like Herod. As some kind of land posts or mile markers. Where people made their own luck. Where ever we were. This year. This year in history. In union, with deficits. Left for the future.

The glorious tradition of Christmas cards. Living history. Who could believe how it all began? In the story about how it all happened. Did your kids believe the chronology, before they arrived? Did they even ask? About our chronology? And their personal appearance on earth.

A better union? To try to write this all down. There was something in the air – over the air. Christmas movies on television, since Thanksgiving. With the lightning and perspective…..the hero. How long does it take at the cinema to recognize which character was the hero? Who is he? What is he? Why is he? In a secular world, except for one 36 hour period, the 36 hours of attitude adjustment with Christmas music on all commercial radio, the barbaric world did not give God notice. Even if pushing only one perspective of this Creator.

A better union? To write this all down, about the framework, and the resulting pleasures. In the season of closeness and better union, what am I gonna say this day, on those Christmas cards? About this year? About the Becoming?

Before that personal experience in a 36 hour period, about a Living God.

It is a wonderful time of year to realize that it is a wonderful life. With a Jimmy Stewart-humility about it all. It is a wonderful time for an attitude adjustment. To address how are we doing? In union.

And so to write that Christmas letter. About the seen and the unseen, in the long dark nights where I live. To tell about the two kids, the two jobs, the house, a huge extended family — like what was described as “the full catastrophe,” in “Zorba the Greek,” by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Union. In the project of Becoming, to write those Christmas cards about the all-in-one package. Three in One. Thus the Christmas letter instead of the Christmas card. In Union, and how it was coming along? When the words became flesh. And what then followed. Trying to put it all into words. How to put the flesh back into words. This year.


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  1. paperlessworld on

  2. paperlessworld on

    The Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa (UAC-Carmen Pampa) is a satellite campus of the Catholic University of Bolivia founded in 1993 to serve the rural poor of Bolivia.

    The UAC-Carmen Pampa was founded on October 3, 1993, by Sister Damon Nolan of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Third Order of Saint Francis. Started as part of a consortium of rural campuses of the Catholic University of Bolivia called UACs (Unidades Académicas Campesinas), the university was created to educate the rural poor. In 2010, UAC-Carmen Pampa became an independent satellite campus of the Catholic University of Bolivia. The university first offered technical degrees in agronomy, veterinary/animal science and nursing. Beginning in 1998, UAC-Carmen Pampa augmented its offering to a licenciatura (BS-equivalent). In 2003 the UAC-Carmen Pampa began offering a licenciatura degree in primary education; in 2006, the university started a technical degree in ecotourism. The UAC-Carmen Pampa also offers a remedial one semester program of college preparatory classes called pre-university. Afterward, a novice in the class quoted the writer, Anatole France: “Chance is perhaps the pseudonym God uses when he doesn’t want to sign his name.”

    In 1999, the Carmen Pampa Fund was established to provide support for the UAC-Carmen Pampa. Located in St. Paul, Minnesota, UAC-Carmen Pampa also has received significant support since 2001 from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In 2003, the United Nations recognized the UAC-Carmen Pampa as an institution with “best practices in poverty eradication.

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