Small Success Thursday: Problem Solved


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This past week, I played catch up. With the laundry, bills, errands I didn’t do last week, and writing, all of which I wanted/needed to do. We also had Halloween. I’ve become convinced that I could always have a great holiday regardless of the holiday, if I could have one extra day before any holiday to get ready.

We got to Halloween. We hadn’t carved a pumpkin. We hadn’t bought candy. Two children still needed costumes. We’d been invited to a party but I didn’t have my costume ready yet either. Fortunately, the mundane and the extraordinary crashed together as I stood in line at the dry cleaners. I wished a woman in front of me, “Happy Halloween.” She beamed a big smile.  “I love this time of year. It’s so fun.” I said I wished I had more time. She shook her head, “Have fun with the things you have to do, and you won’t need any more time.” I went home feeling very much more at peace.

My oldest son took on the carving of the pumpkin. It’s his favorite task; he did a great job. Problem #1. Solved.

I dropped my daughter off at the mall to get her costume and picked up the candy while I waited for her.  Problem #2. Solved.

My thirteen-year-old asked if she could help me with my costume. Problem #3…Solved.

We had a perfect night trick-or-treating with the kids, and the party was even more fun.

The next morning, I took a limited group to All Saints Day Sunday Mass. We went to a parish in our old neighborhood, as we’d all slept in (despite the extra hour).  The music was so beautiful, I cried. I love a choir with a cello and a French horn. The priest was an elderly man, who sat in his wheelchair for most of the liturgy, but made the supreme effort to stand. His frail body going through the physical actions of standing, sitting, and you could see it, wanting to kneel, made me keenly aware of my own participation in the Mass. This was a beautiful Mass, because he was loving what he was doing, despite the obvious effort it took to participate. His physical witness brought everyone else more fully into the experience.

The next evening, there was the perpetual time crunch. I had a daughter who plays basketball, and her practice was from 7-9. I’d wanted to go to Mass on All Souls’ Day. It wasn’t happening. I found a Mass time for 7:30, but my youngest son insisted on coming with me when I did the drop-off for basketball. I also knew, I needed to get my prescription still, and the younger ones needed bedtime routine. So I surrendered on getting to the 7:30, and went to the CVS instead. My son saw the kittens in the animal clinic next door to the pharmacy. He pointed to them and said, “CAT!” and I signed “Cat” and he did too. I said “Meow,” and he did too. We got my medicine and he high-fived me for taking him in the store. When we got home, I read stories to my youngest four, kissed them good night and said prayers before getting back in the car to get my daughter. It wasn’t Mass, but it was an offering, and miracles of miracles, they all went to bed willingly. My teen waved me off and promised to do the dishes because she didn’t really have to do babysitting if all four she would have to watch, were asleep.

I think the woman at the dry cleaner’s, and the priest offering the Mass, revealed the same truth about the nature of holiness. What we do matters, but why we do it, matters even more. I’d still like a few extra days tucked into the preparations for holidays, because getting things done always takes more time than I seem to have, but I’m going to try to keep the image of that priest, wanting to kneel at the consecration, as a reminder to me, to do all things to the extent that I can, and let God make up the lack.

Hope your week is full of signs of God’s presence, in the form of small successes.

Copyright 2015 Sherry Antonetti

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About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog,

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