November 2022: A Time of Family, Tradition, and Impatience

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Dear Friends,

The days seem to be flying by, beginning with the weekend before Thanksgiving. While the Thanksgiving holiday is less complicated than Christmas with no elaborate decorations or buying and wrapping gifts, the traditional preparations for the Thanksgiving feast and the excitement of getting the house ready for guests does create long “to do” lists - shopping for the special ingredients for the favorite family dishes and taking care of a few things around the house we were meaning to get to before hosting guests. After all, the “holiday season” has begun and there is so much to do!

It seems that Black Friday has been overshadowed by Cyber Monday and it takes a keen and persistent eye to catch all of the discounts and deals for those special gifts. E-gift cards make shopping even easier. No need to wait in lines or find specific sizes or colors! What a great time-saving idea! Or is it, if you are awake until midnight and need to go to work early the next morning?
Of course, if you are a “traditional shopper,” then you don’t mind the long lines in the grocery stores, waiting for the very efficient “self-checkout,” when halfway through the beeping of each item registering you get the notice, “Wait for Assistance” . . . and you do wait for assistance. As the traditional shopper you could also plan a day at the local mall to sift through all of the inventory to find the right color, size, style, cut, and design. I have to say that, over the years, I truly have enjoyed doing this, especially when I would find that perfect gift after an all-day scavenger hunt. Online shopping can be as exhausting, offering pages of suggestions for almost any item, especially if you don’t know how to properly set parameters around your search – which I seem to never do correctly.
These are wonderful holiday traditions, and I don’t mean to be cynical about any of them. What I think I am discovering as I grow older (and have repeated the holiday routine for quite some time) is that I am generally an impatient person. I really have a hard time waiting – in line at the grocery store, gas station, amusement park, etc.; in traffic, for a meeting to start, to plan and prepare for the next three projects – you get the idea. Consequently, Advent is one of those seasons of the Church year that is a challenge for me, in the sense that I don’t fully “wring out” all of the meaning of the season because I am already thinking about plans for Christmas. Each year, I try to spend time focusing on this season of anticipation, but I get involved somehow mechanically in preparing for Christmas because of full work and personal calendars. Added to the normal work routine, there are holiday gatherings, decorating, shopping for gifts, even listening to Christmas carols on any number of radio stations and, of course, watching the endless reruns of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.
In thinking about it all, I conclude that contemporary popular culture has won, and I have succumbed to the notion that Advent is really a time to prepare for Christmas – but hold it – isn’t that what Advent is supposed to be? So, what am I beating myself up about? 
With all of the business of Christmas preparation, perhaps there is some reflection of why we do all that we do. Perhaps we can be in touch with the love and appreciation we feel for those family and friends who have supported us and loved us. Perhaps we count our blessings and reach out to those who have less than we do, especially at Christmas. Perhaps our Advent is filled with activity AND reflection, allowing us to re-order priorities in our lives and “clean house” in our own minds and hearts. In other words, we are not just going through the motions, but we are truly engaged in our preparations for Christmas. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has given us himself, and through his suffering, death, and resurrection, the promise of eternal life, may we, in some small way, emulate his love for us and touch the lives of ALL those we meet during this special season. 
I am so grateful for the Archmere Community, a truly amazing group of people, who support one another and reach out to those beyond our school community to those in need. It is so evident in the generosity and goodness of our students that they have been raised in traditions of “giving back” and “paying it forward.”  
So, in my impatience, I say, set up the Christmas tree, decorate the house, make the Christmas cookies, sing Christmas carols, gather as friends and family – all in the spirit of Advent, of waiting for the great celebration when heaven touched earth and changed all of our lives forever. May God Bless us all this Advent and Christmas!

Michael A. Marinelli, Ed.D. ‘76
Head of School
Archmere Academy is a private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy,
grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.