The Christmas fervor begins in earnest. Son Jack returned last night. Michael and Meg start Christmas break tomorrow. Abbie comes home tomorrow and Alex the day after that. We are beginning are Christmas festivities on Friday with an Eastern Michigan party: EMU v. Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl. Marie and my brother graduated from there, and Jack is currently attending.
I think about my childhood Christmases; I think about Christmases from ten years ago when I had a ton of little kids running around. I remember thinking it was the best time ever when I was a kid. I remember thinking it was the best time ever when I had a bunch of little kids on Christmas morning. I'm thinking right now it's the best time ever now that my kids are getting older. Maybe that's the reason they call it the most wondertime time of the year.
St. Thomas the Apostle's Feast Day today. Odd, that: The doubter's feast day on the cusp of the biggest miracle ever. The Church, indeed, loves and embraces paradox. Unfortunately, the Church moved the feast day to July 3rd, but traditionally, it was today, the shortest day of the year.
Antony Esolen is always worth reading, though his prose doesn't cater to the blinkered attention span of the average digital reader. If you're interested in what the "common core" and other dregs from Dewey's wake are doing our children, this piece of his is worth pondering:
When I was young, I wanted to know Dante partly because I wanted to know everything, but mainly because I was in love with poetry and wanted to learn the craft from the masters. I was hungry, and it never occurred to me to think that the grandson of coal miners in America could not lay claim to Dante, or Shakespeare, or Caravaggio, or Aristotle, or any artist or thinker or mystical seer, just because they lived long ago, came from another part of the world, spoke a different language, and were nourished in cultures that were so distant from mine. If they wrote in a different language, I might learn that language; if they came from another part of the world, I studied its geography; if other cultures nourished them, I tried to place myself in their midst – tried to walk with Dante along the streets of Florence, that city riven with partisan passions and all too often running with blood. I did not need these works to affirm my identity. I was not even aware I had an identity, other than that I was a certain young man, American by birth, and by the grace of God Roman Catholic and a fan of the Saint Louis Cardinals.
But I have come to see that many of my students now have no such grounding, no such matter-of-course assurance of who and what they are. If the self is nourished by culture, and culture implies deep roots and carefully tended soil, what happens to the self when the topsoil is stripped bare? And stripped bare it has been. Young people have been starved of beauty: the great majority of them do not even recognize the names of the greatest of English poets, of Milton and Wordsworth and Tennyson, let alone know their songs. They have been taught almost nothing of our nearly three-thousand-year-old heritage of art, no classical or sacred music, no folk music, and no popular music older than a generation. Even many of those who regularly attend Mass on Sunday show no deep familiarity with Scripture. For those who do not darken the church doors, the gospels themselves may as well have come from another planet.