Mike Matvey
Mike Matvey
I think for my son, Charlie, Christmas really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

After all, he starts planning for the next Christmas the day Christmas is over.

With eyes of wonder, he is full of anticipation for what is to come. And it really starts to ramp up after Thanksgiving with lists, and revisions to the lists, and more lists.

It is a frenzied time for an 8-year-old whose interests careen from baseball to baseball cards to basketball. During the winter months, he has basketball with practices and games. And baseball will soon begin again, with indoor practices. Weekends are a blur.

And then there is the ever-present battle of the iPad, which is akin to the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. As we constantly try to limit screen time, he is asking for more. It may never end. Probably the worst present — in the eyes of my wife and I — “Santa” has ever gotten him. Three years ago, we had hidden the iPad in the Christmas tree and forgot to tell him that it was there until later in the day. As soon as he opened it, the battle began.

He is not too far off from when I was a kid. Sure that was 40 years ago, but every child can’t wait for the beginning of Christmas, can’t wait for the day to get here and is upset when it is over. And I always hate the old canards of “Back in my day” or “Kids these days don’t understand,” because I am sure that I would be doing the same thing he is doing now if I were his age. How much time did we spend in front of the Atari 2600? Or watching MTV over and over and over again? How is that different from watching an iPad?

One of the traits that is hardest to instill in him is that aspect of waiting and slowing your life down. Heck, no one wants to wait for anything these days. I am as guilty as anyone. And Advent is certainly a time of waiting; waiting for the birth of Jesus. And that is why in this time of shopping frenzy and increased connection to the world of social media, it is time to unplug — especially that iPad — and think about what is important.

In a recent Mary DeTurris Poust column (“Be an active participant in your life,” The Evangelist, Nov. 10), she talks about the importance of meditation, saying, “When we get out of our own way, the 20 minutes that seemed impossible to manage one day becomes impossible to live without just a few weeks later.”

It is true. If you were to meditate or pray for even one minute a day to start, the next day you are likely to miss that time of reflection. And then the next day, that one minute becomes two. It is in these quiet times and places that we find what is really important: faith and family.

Since Advent began, I have tried to take time out of the day to close my eyes and think about what is important to me and how to be a better, faith-filled father. In a story in last week’s paper, St. Edith Stein said she tried to begin the day in the presence of God. A short prayer asking God to help us be better Christians is never a bad start. If you are placing ornaments on the Christmas tree, say a short prayer for anyone who you think needs it. The beginning of the Prayer of St. Francis always works, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” I often say it when I am running around the neighborhood as a calming mantra.

Last week, I told Charlie we are going to close our eyes and be quiet for one minute and think about Jesus and how we are awaiting his birth in a few short weeks.

After a minute, I told him to open his eyes and said, “How did that feel?”

He said, “Great, now can I watch my iPad?”

I guess you have to crawl before you learn to walk on your own.

Merry Christmas from The Evangelist family to your family this year!