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.
12/7/2014 11:35:38 pm
This is both magical and poetic. It is a personal memory with universal appeal and relevance. The images stimulate the senses - like poetry can do like no other form; it becomes universal because, among other things, it transports the reader not only to your past, but inspires one's own similar recollections. There's magic in that!
12/8/2014 08:45:12 am
I would definitely agree with Michael's comment. In fact, I'm supposed to write a speech on angels for a dinner on Thursday and this entry inspired me to connect my topic to how painful Christmas tends to be and how our contact with angels, especially our Guardian Angels, can lead us past the hurt to a place of joy. I think most of us find Christmas more difficult than Lent but the beauty of your entry was that it went beyond hurt and focused on how wonderful and beautiful the memory was. It's bittersweet as so many holiday memories are but I think that what I've come to realize is that the first Christmas was painful as well. It's a story full of conflict, suffering and anxiety and yet God's presence made it beautiful.
12/8/2014 10:36:14 pm
Christmas....was always about the lights for me...Advent candles, Christmas lights on the front porch, neighbors lights, the lights on the Christmas tree AND the lights in our Church for midnight Mass....
12/9/2014 08:02:05 am
I just want to add one more thing as an addition to my previous comment. I couldn't remember it last night but now I found where I had written it down. We went past a church yesterday and on its outside bulletin board it said, "Joy is not the absence of difficulties but the presence of God." How true.
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