Some folks from Old St. Pat’s invited me to join them for their son’s 2nd birthday party recently and I was honored to be there for this “milestone” in little Jack’s life. Nothing says fun (and chaos!) than watching families gather for a kid’s birthday. This party was complete with “Happy Birthday” signs taped to the walls, balloons, flashing cameras, kids running around, noise, more noise, and the “guys” sitting around in the family room watching college basketball! Not having been to a kid’s birthday in a while, I forgot what a really big deal it is when the cake comes out after dinner, the lights dim, guys must depart from the basketball game on television for a few minutes, and everyone gets ready for the off-key singing of “happy birthday.” What is also interesting is what happens at the end of the song and the two little candles (as well as the entire cake) prepare for a “spit-filled” blow from the birthday boy and all the little cousins surrounding him blowing over his shoulder! “Make a wish,” someone yells in keeping with tradition! And that is when I thought: come on, this kid is not making any wish. A two-year-old is not slowing down to make a wish or wait for any formal portrait to be taken. To coin a more modern phrase to describe a two-year-old’s excitement for cake: he can’t wait “to get after it!” Translated “get after it” means: dive it; eat it up; start immediately; jump in; don’t wait…..you get the picture? That is all a kid wants on his 2nd birthday is just “to get after it.”
I am not sure how many people actually make New Year’s Resolutions today or perhaps last night on New Year’s Eve. Traditionally, the New Year’s resolutions means we are going to make a commitment to achieving something or altering our behavior in the new calendar year. I am sure if there is some statistic out there in “statistics world,” I would venture to guess that most people do not follow through or can even remember what their resolution actually is. Like a lot of resolutions that may not require a lot of skin in the game, let’s face it: they fizzle out.
Which leads me back to Jack’s birthday party and his attitude toward that cake staring him in the face: get after it!!! I think on this New Year’s Day as we face another calendar year with so many unknowns lying before us, there is a part of me that would like to suggest that with our own “resolutions,” let’s just “get after it!” Meaning, if we want to make this a great year, then “get after it” and do what you need to do now. If you are looking to get more engaged in family life, re-engineer some relationships, work at your professional skills, and more importantly re-acquaint yourself with some part of your faith life, then let’s “get after it.” Do not wait and do not make an empty resolution that will fade by mid-January. If there are some health issues and things you can control now, then let’s get after it. If someone needs to hear from us or there is an opportunity for personal growth we have been putting off and procrastinating about, then let’s get after it.
If you were gone last week and perhaps visiting relatives in another part of the world, then Merry Christmas to you! We are so grateful for all of you and for the church we create together at Old St. Pat’s. I would love to see 2012 just be a great year for us where our mission expands, North Lawndale deepens, and hospitality goes through the roof so we pack this place with searchers and seekers! Well then, like Jack and that cake, let’s “get after it!”
Happy New Year.
Fr. Tom Hurley