When I was all of sixteen, I used to love listening to soundtracks as I was getting ready to go out with friends. A particular favorite was the soundtrack to the movie, “What Women Want.” It was full of those big band sounds so conducive to dancing. I especially love the song, “Something’s Gotta Give” by Dean Martin and the Rat Pack.
I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot lately in reference to the liturgical seasons. It’s beautiful how the Church’s new year begins in Advent, long before the secular New Year occurs. It is also comforting, because as Catholics we are called to use this time wisely. During Advent, we are called and encouraged to embrace the season of preparation for the gift of Christ’s coming at Christmas. As mothers, we encourage our children to prepare their hearts and souls for this gift, and this season of preparation becomes an integral part of the gift that they will receive. In fact, we all need this gift of preparation, especially (in my life) to avoid getting caught up in comparisons with other families—those with picture-perfect photos and activities.
At Christmas, we celebrate the wonderful, amazing, seemingly impossible gift of our God taking on human flesh for us. Of course, we all have faults or shortcomings we still recognize in ourselves, but we put those aside for now in order to celebrate. I’ve maintained for years that one of the great things about being Catholic is that there is a Christmas season, not just a day. We don’t need to feel the pressure of getting cards out or getting everything done by Dec. 25th because the Church has set aside two weeks to celebrate—from December 25th to about January 6th. Christ keeps giving himself, and we have ample opportunity to embrace that gift.
During this season, we also celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, when we focus on the unity of mind and heart among Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And how fitting it is that to close the octave of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. We recognize with thanksgiving the great gift she has given us—the gift of our savior—the gift of God among us.
The amazing gift comes down to attempting to achieve the ultimate gift we could receive: the gift of heaven – eternal joy in God’s presence. Achieving heaven is not a goal we can reach on our own. God gives us chances over and over to be purified in Christ—to receive the sacraments, to meditate on the Scriptures, to minister to those in need, and all the other ways to grow in holiness. He keeps giving of himself in order to help us grow. When we think we have reached the end of our rope—that there’s no living up to the comparisons we make, or we have so much regret for things we wish we would have done or wouldn’t have done—that’s when “something’s gotta give.” That “some-thing” is actually “some-one”—and his giving to us never ends.