by Father Mark Goldasich
This new year, more than previous ones, there’s much anticipation, particularly for those of us who wear glasses or contact lenses. Why? Because in just a few days, we’ll all be seeing 2020!
That opening is so bad that even those who usually enjoy “Dad jokes” probably groaned and hissed. But what would the new year look like if we did change our view going into it?
I’m reminded of an old story about two little boys. One of them was an optimist and the other, a pessimist. When Advent rolled around one year, the parents decided to do a little experiment. They asked the boys to compile their Christmas lists.
The parents then went out and bought the pessimist everything on his list. For the optimist, however, the parents put some manure in a fancy, wrapped box.
As Christmas morning dawned, the parents put the two boys into separate rooms so they could see what would transpire. The pessimist tore into his pile of gifts. He found something to complain about with each one:
“This radio controlled car is the wrong color.”
“I wanted the 1000-piece puzzle, not this 500-piece one.”
“I’m sure I asked for the iPhone 11 Pro Max, not the 11 Pro.”
On and on, the little pessimist whined, tears of rage in his eyes.
Meanwhile, in the other room, the little optimist eagerly tore into his one present. As he opened up the box of manure, he let out a scream of joy. When his parents asked why he was so thrilled, he replied, “You can’t fool me! I know that where there’s this much manure, there’s got to be a pony somewhere!”
Now that you’ve opened your Christmas gifts, which of the two little boys do you most resemble?
Growing up, I was more like the pessimist. Don’t get me wrong, I never complained out loud and always thanked the giver of the gift. But inside, there was often a sense of disappointment. I suppose that I always enjoyed the anticipation of what the wrapped gift might contain, rather than what it actually turned out to be (because it was rarely what I’d hoped for).
As I got older, I turned into the optimist — not that anyone ever gave me a box of manure. (And, please, don’t get any ideas!) Each gift that I receive reminds me that someone was thinking about me . . . and that is a gift in itself.
One of my resolutions in 2020 is to get a more positive perspective and to help others do the same. I got a jump on my resolution a couple of weeks ago. One of my parishioners was lamenting that we didn’t have a Midnight Mass for Christmas.
I explained that, several years ago during a liturgy committee meeting, the topic of Midnight Mass came up. Members of the choir said, “You know, Father, all of us are getting older and that’s awfully late to be out. So, you can go on having a Midnight Mass, but you won’t have a choir to sing at it.”
Needless to say, we’ve been having a 10 p.m. Mass ever since!
With that in mind, I proposed this solution to my disappointed parishioner. “On Christmas Eve, as soon as it gets dark outside, set your watch two hours ahead. Then, come to ‘Midnight Mass’ as usual. You’ll continue to feel the still of a winter’s night, we’ll have Christmas hymns and readings as usual and then, when you get home after church, reset your watch to the correct time and enjoy an ‘extra’ two hours of sleep. It’s a win-win situation!”
I’m not sure my parishioner is convinced, but it seems like a good idea to me.
I’m hoping to transform myself from a “devil’s advocate” into an adventurer in the new year. It’s much easier for me to poke holes in new ideas and point out all that can go wrong rather than encouraging a different take on things and being open to where it may lead.
Who knows? What appears to be a box of manure might indeed mean that there’s a pony somewhere!