November 23, 2012

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Christmas is coming … What are you waiting for?

Debra TomaselliI will never forget the year that Hurricane Charley rocked our hometown. Thanks to modern technology, forecasters were able to predict landfall, allowing us time to prepare.

Schools and businesses closed, allowing parents and workers time to plan for the storm. Stores stayed open late, trying to accommodate the needs of the community. Radio and television reporters chattered nonstop, suggesting ways to minimize the impending devastation.

Neighborhoods were evacuated, windows were boarded up. I raced to the local grocery store to stock up on bottled water and canned goods, and found the place teeming with frantic customers.

I hoped to purchase Dinty Moore’s beef stew or Chef Boyardee’s Ravioli, but only a few random cans rolled around the shelves. Flashlights and batteries were scarce. Bread shelves were empty. Only a broken package of bottled water remained in that aisle.

Back home, I raced around the yard, picking up bicycles, potted plants and trash cans. My husband uprooted our St. Joseph statue and moved it into the garage. We helped our neighbors trim tree limbs, and they showed us how to redirect our pool pump to empty water before the rainfall. We found the family cat and brought her inside.

Then all we could do was wait.

Outside, grey clouds hovered. Eventually, the rains fell, growing in momentum and pushed by the howling winds. The electricity flickered on and off and we were left in the dark for days.

We read books, played Scrabble and practiced the ancient art of listening. Driving curfews were imposed and silenced our busy highways. Rampant power outages created an eerie atmosphere of stillness.

We could only prepare, watch and wait.

Christmas is a reminder that we are a waiting people. It is a time of preparation.

We decorate our homes. We plan parties. We rush to purchase the perfect presents, select festive outfits and arrange holiday feasts. We give generously to those in need.

Underlying the preparations, however, is our time of waiting. We wait in anticipation for the joys of Christmas morning. We wait to reunite with distant family and friends. We wait to enjoy the banquet.

Waiting is a good thing.

For it is in these days that we can return to a quiet place away from the frenzy. It is in these days that we pause to remember the reason for the celebrations. It is in these days that we rediscover the wonders of his love.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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