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My Christmas Weekend 2018
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018 2:37 PM

People do stupid things because they mistakenly believe those stupid things will make them happy. - Matthew Kelly, Resisting Happiness

Last Friday was Kent's 43rd birthday. I called him up on speaker phone and had my mom and two youngest nieces help me sing happy birthday to him. Before I placed the call, my mom went off on me. "Why are you calling him?" she seemed to seethe. "It's not healthy for you two to talk all the time." I looked her straight in the eye and said, "We don't talk all the time. We don't talk every single day. Today is his birthday. If I don't call him up and wish him happy birthday, nobody else will." Later that night, I received a text message from him saying how grateful he was that we called him up and sang him happy birthday. We were the only people to do this besides his uncle and aunt that he's staying with right now. His dad never called him. His brother never called him. His cousins never called him. Even his son never called him. I knew they wouldn't. They don't celebrate birthdays like my family does.

Sunday night my brother called to thank my mom for his Christmas gifts. Since my parents were going to mass soon, my mother handed me the phone. My brother and I talked for a little over 2 hours. Two hours! That may not seem like a lot of time to some people, but it was amazing for him. When my parents returned from church, my mom's jaw dropped that Scotty and I were still talking.

You see, my brother has chosen a hermit-like existence. I believe it's partially from his social anxiety, which runs in the family. I also believe it's because it's easier for him to reject society before society can reject him. He may not see it that way, but I know my brother. He fears rejection even if he doesn't want to admit it. It took me until I was 40 years old to realize that I was the one doing the rejecting and the judging. I spent years believing I was being judged and rejected, when it was actually me condemning myself. It's quite the catch-22. On one hand, you are special. On the other hand, you're not so special that somebody else spends very little of their time thinking negative thoughts specifically about you. And if they actually do? Why put forth the effort to actually care? Does their opinion really matter? My mother brought this up a bit, and I told her, "He's only 38. Hopefully he'll figure this out when he hits 40."

Scotty and I talked about many things. Mostly we discussed family matters and the book he's writing. He keeps encouraging me to become an editor and to use his book as practice. I told him I would read and edit his book but not to rush me on it because of everything I'm dealing with personally right now.

Which brings me to Monday. On Thursday, I watched my two youngest nieces for a little bit. When I took them out for lunch, Katie brought up the fact that she was singing in the church choir on Monday. She asked me if I was going so I could see her performance. I told her I would be there. So, for the first time in many years, I dressed up and went to mass. Fortunately for me, Catholic masses are always the same. It was like riding a bicycle. However, there was one thing that has changed that threw me for a loop. It used to be when the words "peace be with you" were said, you would respond, "and also with you." Now, it's something more like, "and with your spirit." I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to the new words because "and also with you" is very ingrained in my sub-conscience. From where I was sitting, I had the perfect view of my niece. She was one among a dozen other little girls singing songs like "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night." I was very proud of her because she was one of the only girls to not look at the book while singing.

During mass, my eyes kept itching. My mother said it was from the incense. I tried to kneel when we were supposed to kneel but the swelling in my right leg hurt too much from the pressure so I did a half-kneel kind of thing. I tried to pray a little bit, but all my prayers were a bit selfish. I asked God to help sell my house so it would alleviate a lot of stress from our lives. I even told Him, "I know I haven't been a very good Catholic, but You know why. I just can't see myself inside a church that condemns the livelihood of homosexuals. Deep down I know that's not what You are about because You created everyone, and if You truly believed homosexuality was wrong, You would not have created people to be more than heterosexual. But God, I will find my place someday. It's just not in a Catholic church." Then I went on asking him to help sell the house, if not for me, than for my dad who feels the stress and pressure more than any of us financially. I think I said something like, "He is always giving himself over to You, letting You do with him as You will, but he needs a break and he needs help.. and while it's slightly selfish of me to ask this, one of the main things that would alleviate his stress and anxiety is the sale of my house." We shall see if the prayers go answered. I hope they do, because I'm not sure how long I can live with all this financial stress.

When mass was over, the church was handing out the book, Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. It was their Christmas gift to their parishioners. I took a copy because I saw it as a sign. I know that I'm going through a lot right now, but one of the many things I'm doing is resisting happiness. I know I am. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for feeling happy, when I shouldn't be feeling guilty about that at all. I've read the first three chapters and underlined a few key points. I'm going to read the entire book and see where it takes me. It's a personal struggle that I hope this book helps me deal with. One of my favorite lines so far is this: Working out what makes you happy is essential, but so is working out what destroys your happiness.

Anyhow, on Christmas day, we gathered at my sister Angie's house for lunch. I spent the entire afternoon teaching all the females about their life path numbers and reading their palms. When I got home, I ended up going to bed early because I was tired for some reason. Probably all the late night Marvelous Mrs. Maisel marathon I've been having.

I have to go now. Work is ending. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

In 19 Seconds

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You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...

- Dr. Seuss