Home for Christmas

We're in the last days of Advent, now.  Christmas is getting so close - another Christmas, another memory of the birth of a God, and another look forward to the end of the world.  Since the feast of the great St. John the Baptist in June, the earth has been growing cold and dark, the days becoming shorter.  We feel the lack of the sun.  Christ in His mercy comes when all is most dark, bringing natural and eternal light.

Christmas and Easter are the two great holidays, but Easter is by far the greater in the role that it played in the drama of salvation history.  The Passion really is a drama, isn't it?  What a plot filled with intensity - trust, betrayal, redemption, true love, sacrifice, murder, all on a scale grand beyond conception.  The play is filled with characters of every ilk, men and women great and little.  If you try to look back and see the big picture, to step out of it and envision the drama it really is, the image is quite staggering.

As I was saying, Easter is the greatest feast, but in many ways Christmas is the more accessible.  Children understand in their way the Holy Family, the animals, the friendly strangers stopping by to greet the new little baby.  Women grasp, from their participation in femininity, the purity of the Virgin, the cares and joys of the Mother.  Men understand the protecting father, the laboring shepherds, the traveling Kings.  In our humanity we connect with Christmas.  At Easter, we can be awed, amazed, fearful, joyful, overcome.  But it can be harder to place ourselves in the real, ancient event.

I find most beautiful some of the hymns or "carols" which we sing around this time.  (And don't get me started on how every pop star thinks they need to produce a Christmas album and sing carols in a sultry voice.)  My favorite, which I much prefer to hear sung by a man, is "O Holy Night."  How the music rises and builds to that glorious line, when sung with power has the ability to make you do as it commands:

Fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices!  O night divine...

Midnight Mass, dressed to the nines, singing carols and hymns in the darkened, sparkling church, waiting for the light to rise and for Father to bring in the blessed Infant.  Red and gold all over the sanctuary, children and adults buoyed in happy expectation; the Christmas proclamation of all the days through all the history of the world, all of which have led to this one moment.  Bells at the Gloria, choir sharing cookies and carillon music coming from the bell towers in the dark.

This is just me rambling, my thoughts on the coming Christ-Mass. 

I have always loved the traditions that my family has, especially the many we have for this feast.  We do more at the church and liturgically during Lent and Easter; Christmas is more about the family celebrating together.  Our Christmas day is relatively quiet, but we celebrate for all twelve days.  As far as decor, we go all out.  Our tree...well, our tree really is one-of-a-kind.  We actually have one big tree, a 4-foot tree, a 3-foot tree, and a miniature tree.  All three regular trees are absolutely covered with ornaments; the two smaller ones are the overflow after all the branches on the big tree are double-hung.  The miniature tree is covered with its miniature ornaments!  The crates of Christmas decorations could create a bomb shelter in the basement, I think.

My favorite decorations, though, are all the beautiful Nativity sets we have throughout the house.  Not all of them get put out, but there must be fifteen at least from the tiny Spanish ceramic one to the Fontanini with its dozens of figures.  In the days throughout Advent, all the mangers stand empty, waiting.  Mary and Joseph and the donkey travel through the house on their way to Bethlehem, and after we return from Midnight Mass all the Christ Child figures come out of the drawer and the sets are complete, for unto us a Child is born!

Our twelve days of Christmas are spent making between 2500 and 3000 cookies for our Epiphany open house!  Lots of baking, decorating, party prep and finally, a grand and glorious party where everyone is stuffed full of cookies, hors d'oevres, and punch.  Leftover trays get taken to offices and good friends who couldn't make it, and even so we have just enough cookies left to finish eating ourselves!

There, a random dissertation on Christmas.  Just remember the 12 Days of Christmas come AFTER December 25, and Advent is a penitential season!  My goal is to have posts prepared for the twelve days, (all scheduled ahead of time because I will not have any time to post with all the baking) each with a particular bit of tradition or history or prayer.

And Happy Christmas Adam - which comes the day before Christmas Eve, you know!


  1. Christmas Adam? Oh, my word, Rebecca, really... :D I MISS YOU!


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