Plenty of reasons to be thankful

Published 3:51 pm Friday, November 26, 2021

Flim Flam, Bim Bam – it seems we skipped fall, jumped straight to winter, and the holiday season kicked off with Thanksgiving, Thursday.  Ole Miss played Mississippi “A&M” for the 117th time, 30 times on Thanksgiving, this one 6:30pm in Starkbark – Ole Miss leads the series 64-45-6 (as of this column) with two forfeits and three vacated games.  

The first game of this series was October 28, 1901, won by A&M 17-0 – the Rebels winning last year’s game (on Saturday, November 28), first for Lane Kiffin as Coach, 31-24 in “Camelot.”  On Thanksgiving Day, 1926, Ole Miss beat the Aggies 7-6 in Starkville after 13 years, the Red & Blue stormed the field to tear down the goal posts, fights broke out, and both student bodies decided playing for a trophy would civilize things – so a “Golden Egg” trophy was created, featuring an old fashioned football that looked like an – egg.  In 1978, both teams not being Bowl eligible, the Clarion Ledger referred to the game as the “Egg Bowl” won by Ole Miss 27-7, and the name stuck.

Submitting this column this past Wednesday, obviously couldn’t know the outcome of this game – but Ole Miss, ranked either 8 or 9, with a 9-2 record and chance to become the first Ole Miss Football team ever to win 10 games in a season, battled against the Bulldogs ranked 25 or not, 7-4, both headed to a real Bowl appearance, and records don’t really matter because this is our in-state rivalry game!  GO REBELS!! And, Matt Corral – please stay for your senior year!

Over these last two pandemic years, I have retreated deep within my introverted rabbit hole, don’t want to do much – especially travel, but came face-to-face with PTSD from numerous sources that I shoved down there, dealt with, and thankfully am coming out of weeks of disrupted normalcy with my cat, Jag (Jaguar).

There is a litany of things that I am thankful for, and as we are taught, God is to be loved above all earthly people and things including family.  I give my life to God daily at Mass – therefore, whatever is happening, as tumultuous as it might be, is God’s will for me, has a purpose that only He knows, am humbly, very thankful to be alive, healthy, for my faith, church, freedom, family, y’all, Oxford, Ole Miss, The Eagle, and abundance of God’s gifts!

The 1st Sunday of Advent “Coming” is tomorrow, occurs on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, begins a new liturgical year for the Church, and celebrates Christ birth 2,021 years ago which split time into BC/AD (contemplate that) “Before Christ,” and “Anno Domini,” Latin for “In the year of the Lord,” and is time for us to prepare for His coming again this December 25. The “mas” in “Christmas” simply means “Mass,” it is the Christ-Mass, the Mass Christmas Day of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ.

As sacristan, before the 11:00 am Mass in the morning, I’ll light the first of five Advent Wreath candles on the altar composed of a circle of evergreen branches to symbolize eternal life, four candles are placed around the circle, three purple, one rose, representing the four Sundays of Advent – the fifth, a large white candle in the center “Christ’s Candle” will be lit on Christmas Eve. 

The purple candles symbolize prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works to prepare ourselves for our Lord’s coming at Christmas.  The third candle on Gaudete Sunday, December 12, is rose and designates a time of rejoicing because we have arrived at the midpoint of Advent and the birth of our Lord is only days away. 

Lighting that first Advent candle always stirs the wee lad in me and recalls my boyhood home in Southern Missouri and St Henry’s Catholic Church across the street from our house where a large Advent Wreath was placed on a table at the back of church.   Although I attended Catholic School kindergarten through high school, daily Mass, altar boy, choirboy, taught by Ursuline Nuns and priests – when that first candle was lit my thoughts went straight to three candles remaining until the coming of Santa Claus, uh, not so much the birth of Jesus! Please don’t tell Sister Wilma or Monsignor Schmitt.

 “We have to remember that Christmas is not about the birth of a Christmas tree, but about the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent, therefore Is the time to prepare ourselves for the Prince of Peace by being at peace with ourselves, our soul that is often in anxiety, anguish and without hope. For this, one needs to start with oneself.” Pope Francis

So, I pray you had a Happy Thanksgiving, GO REBELS (hope we beat State), and best wishes for a prayerful Advent

Steve Stricker received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, lives in Oxford, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu