Changing the Changes

There was a time in my life at which I embraced change with much enthusiasm. I ran toward it whenever I had the opportunity, because change is opportunity, I reasoned. It occurs to me now that this was likely driven in part by the fact that I was unsatisfied by where I was at the time, either geographically, professionally or personally. I think that I would have identified it as being “driven” or “motivated” to success then, but, at the end of the day, I was unsatisfied.

And, I think, change is almost always a good thing. I’m just beginning to realize that, as I get (cough) older (cough), I have a bit of a more difficult time in adapting to that change. The funny thing is that this difficulty is because of change. When I started this blog a long time ago, I was a single grad student with no clue what life would look like by the time I was out of school and in the “real world” again. I’m somewhat surprised by the fact that it looks like having a wife and a daughter and being back in school at this point in my life.

I’m not complaining about any of the above…like I said, change is still a good thing.

The motivation for the change is what I call into question these days, though. When we were first married, one of Karen’s favorite phrases about difficulty spots in life was, “It’s an adventure!” And indeed, it is. I lose sight of this, though. I lose sight of the adventure and how our family grows stronger together through the adventure because I become so easily dissatisfied when faced with a life predicament.

It turns out that I may, in fact, be a bit optimistic in considering myself optimistic. Let’s call me a realist, then, shall we?

Because I really don’t want to be a pessimist, but I drift dangerously close to crossing that line at times. All because I become dissatisfied. As we near the end of Advent and enter the Christmas season, I can think of few things more troubling than being dissatisfied, because that is a result of a consumer-driven Holiday mindset. I don’t want a Christmas driven by what goodies I receive, or even by what goodies I may be able to give. I want a Christmas driven by thankfulness for what I have, and I don’t necessarily just mean goodies. I mean people. I mean kindness shown, and grace shown. I mean opportunities, as trying as they may be.

I mean the positivity of change, as difficult as it can be for me to cope with its process these days.

That could even lead to a most wonderful time of the year…

Weekend Lights

The thought occurred to me at some point during the week that I really should be considering Christmas decorations soon. I suppose it came up because I started seeing trees and stockings up around the workplace of the day job, and I started thinking about where the tree and so forth is in our storage closet. With adding our daughter to the family and recovering from Thanksgiving travels (I was oddly jet-lagged this year), I simply haven’t devoted much consideration to the fact that the Christmas holiday is really only days away.

Now begins the series of loose traditions that we tend to keep this time of year: watching a few movies, listening to Christmas jazz and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, planning family visits, and so forth. I’ve decided to put up lights and our tree tonight, and we attended a mid-week service for the first week of Advent this week.

And, as its the first week of Advent (very nearly the second as I write this), I think that this is a perfectly good time to begin these festivities.

What I haven’t given much thought to is gifts. We’ve picked up a couple here and there, and my parents have asked us for our list. I’ve thought of the family members to which we ship gifts each year. I just really haven’t felt the pressure to rush out and buy things and send them off. I’m intentionally trying to keep it at bay, as well as my desire to receive any gifts beyond some simple things, or needed things.

Then, of course, Karen mentioned that I might be getting a new iPhone for Christmas, and my materialism kicked right in.

I just don’t want it to be this. I wish it were something more. I know that it can be something more. Attending just a brief Advent service this week calmed me, gave me a sense of peace, a sense of focus. That’s what I want to hold onto this season. I’m sure that I’ll enjoy a rushed shopping trip or two with the family, but what I’m most interested in is family, and faith, this Christmas season. Gifts will happen, but they will be incidental. And most certainly not a source of stress, because that will defeat the point.

Suddenly, it seems like that could be quite the accomplishment if I can pull it off. I’m going to give it a good attempt, though. And now I’m going to work on decorations.

Photo Attribution: Life’s Too Short