LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
Our little “country” parish in Stamford, New York is hosting a festive Christmas Cookie Swap after the noon Mass on Sunday, December 14th this year. I don’t bake. I don’t bake cookies, especially, because I don’t have the patience to drop spoon after spoon after spoon of batter onto a cookie sheet. But I knew that being a part of that parish event, sharing confections with other faithful believers, would herald in the beginnings of the lovely Christmas Season. So, I began searching for my mother's famous macaroon recipe and I started thinking about what Christmas has meant to me.
When I think of Christmas, I think of my younger brother and am propelled back to Christmas Eve 1970. At midnight our church glowed like a beacon at the top of the city’s highest hill. Every stained glass window sent its saintly image out into that dark night; a night where most everyone was nestled in their beds waiting for Santa to arrive. Everyone except the faithful, who were readying themselves to celebrate one of the most joyful and holiest nights of the year! I was 7 years old. I sat upon the dining room table in excited anticipation as I watched my mother and her girlfriend unpack the costume that would transform my six year old brother. There were ooohs and aaaahs throughout the unveiling. Charles would wear white ruffled shirt, white knickers trimmed with sparkling brocade, and a white, three-cornered hat adorned with a long, white, exotic peacock feather. He was chosen to be an angelic musketeer! ... one of six pages to lead the Midnight Mass procession from entrance to altar. The hallowed pages, altar boys and priests would follow the gilded crucifix as it weaved through the candle lit church till they gracefully settled into their assigned places in the sanctuary. Haunting and beautiful Christmas melodies sung by the choir were accompanied by woodwinds, and strings, and a gorgeous organ. Spectators could not help but feel God’s presence and sense His nod of approval over the glorious festivities.
This is how I remember Christmas. And with this memory, I choose to celebrate instead of grieve for my brother, who would never do anything in his short life as important or as grand as he did that night: participating in the celebration of our Lord’s birth. I can only hope he knew that to be true as well.