A Dad’s Advent Reflection on Captivity


Certain things make us people watchers. Like a rare family trip to the mall, for instance, particularly when the young, female contingency wants to stop by Claire’s. For the uninitiated, Clare’s is the “you too can be a pop princess” store. Not all bad, just not our shtick. I gave it a valiant five minutes. Just long enough for my “no’s” to be rightly understood not as particular, but categorical. Then I found myself a nice bench just outside, regretting that I forgot to bring a book.
Suddenly I’m surrounded. People. Lot’s of people. From every walk of life.
Let’s just say it. Unless it was some kind of unique “flash mob” thing, the majority of people are just not happy. No eye contact. Kind of an empty, bewildered look. It stands out particularly in the Christmas season. Noticeable are those with a glimmer of joy, a genuine smile, a kind word.
So, we’re not just talking an individual on a rare, bad day. One can’t help but wonder, with our unprecedented wealth and comfort, surrounded by all the material promise of fulfillment- and still evidently not happy, what does happiness really take?
The Origins of Unhappiness
In our home unhappiness typically begins with a brother simply being mischievous (or someone doing something mildly annoying, but let’s go with mischievous). He’s bored. Suddenly he sees concentric circles around a particular sister. Boys like gadgets, and there aren’t many in our house. He figures she’ll do. The button is pressed. The nerve is tapped. She gives it back.  Within moments our home becomes an audio armageddon.
A small, little example paints a very big picture about us, and our world.
When one decides to be unkind, the other is wounded. They become protective and defensive. Their soul, meant to behold greater things, is jaded. Now add over a


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