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Religion: Christmas Clothes, part 1

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

It was that day, just past Thanksgiving Day, and the perennial Black Friday hoopla was in full swing. There was a palpable electricity to all this day’s activities, as the equally perennial over-marketing triggered many of the now-familiar emotions of the consumer. Each year, or so it seemed, the effort began earlier and earlier, with some wags suggesting that the onslaught would soon begin before the celebration of Labor Day.

That Friday, in the small southern Mississippi town, it was a clear, but chilly morning with the bracing light wind coming from the North. Dawn had not yet come, and the inky blackness pervaded the land. Stewart, ready to celebrate his ninth birthday in a few weeks, lay slumbering on the small bed, when his younger brother Bobby suddenly turned over. Started and awake, the boy angrily asked “What are you doing?”

There was no reply, as the younger brother had now returned to dreamland. Stewart, fully awake, briefly considered going back to sleep, but the thoughts of yesterday, coupled with the potential of Christmas, kept rattling around in his skull. These were not particularly pleasant thoughts, as there were many challenges to be overcome.

Laying there in the gloom, the young boy heard soft footsteps going down the hall. It did not sound like his mother, so it had to be one of his four other brothers, or sisters. At the sound of running water, the rest of the family began to stir and the activities of a family began their day. Soon, their mother could be heard in the hallway, “See y’all downstairs in ten minutes. Now brush your teeth. Don’t cheat, ‘cause I will check!”

Donna’s life had not been easy and she had done as well as she felt she could. Falling in love with her high-school sweetheart, she had her first child before being out of her teens. Both the father of the child and her mother had “inspired” the couple to marry, but it did not last long. Within a few years, it was over and Donna found herself a single parent of a toddler.

She had never had much. Her parents worked hard and had given their daughter an abundance of love, even though living paycheck to paycheck. Occasionally, there was the necessity of public support to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. In spite of the challenges of living, Donna, and her five siblings, rarely knew they were doing without.

Yet, in this next generation, history seemed to be repeating itself. This younger mother, two years after the first breakup, moved in with her boyfriend, David. They had known each other for about six months and were now eager to begin life together. Each was resolute in not being married, for they had both experienced relationship issues.

Donna knew in her heart that this was not a perfect fit. David had a temper and enjoyed his beer. From time to time, he was out of a job and he did not seem too interested in finding another, any time soon. Yet, in spite of all of this, she was tired of struggling in life alone and was willing to make compromises, with the thought, “It will work out.”

“After all,” Donna justified, “he has not hit me.”

Shortly after moving in, she was pregnant with her second child.