I know it's been a while. Things here are crazy busy once again, and no help for it.
Last week Wednesday, the kids and I made our way through wet slushy streets to midday Mass. It's something I would rather do on a far more regular basis, but the distance means that the time involved eats up the better part of our day. It's just not practical. Rotten excuse, I know, but there it is. At any rate, we made it, and afterward we helped several other families to decorate the Narthex, the Nave and the Sanctuary for Christmas.
What a blessing! What a joyful task! There were several Nativities from which to choose, and we ended up using just two of them. The one in the Narthex is raised up, and properly housed in a rough stable. The pieces are full-color, and large. An angel hovers above the stable, suspended from the ceiling with strong wires.
The other was placed just in front of the Ambo. This was my job, and it was an incredible honor. I used wooden platforms beneath fabric to place the figures of the Holy Family and two sheep. They are surrounded by white, pink and red poinsettias, and that's it. The pieces are plain, but elegant.
(That's your humble blogger there, proclaiming the Psalm. The Holy Family is there in front of the Ambo.)
The kids made good helpers, ferrying plants from the rear of the Nave to the front, attaching festive bows to every other pew on the center aisle, and taking great joy in helping to make the church a pretty place to come and worship the Infant King on the Feast of His Nativity.
I think the most humbling thing for me was to help change the Altar linens.
When we finished our work, we left to discover driving rain and lashing wind had come to usher in the storm we were expecting. We made our way carefully home, and were blessed to have that afternoon, evening, and the following morning--Christmas Eve--to just spend time together at home. We found ourselves decorating the tree, and doing puzzles, watching Polar Express and White Christmas, and just hanging out. It was lovely.
On Thursday, our supper plan was to gather in the home of dear friends with three other families (12 adults, 26 children!), and then proceed to church for Midnight Mass. The snow and ice storm meant that we had to leave a bit earlier than anticipated, but we all made it in time.
What a gorgeous Mass! With the humongous tree lit up with white lights, a brass quartet joining the organ, the choir singing beautifully, the packed pews, the legions of servers and seminarians, the occasion was absolutely everything that Christmas should be. The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ and the Gospel were both chanted, the hymns were sung with gusto, and a Canon and two Deacons joined the clergy.
(Those middle two servers kneeling there are the Thurifer [the taller one, on the right] and the Boat Bearer [the smaller one, on the left]. The Boat Bearer also happens to be my Pickle! There were about nine other servers and seminarians who are not shown here...and we only had a handful of our 28 seminarians with us that evening.)
It was nearly 3:00 in the morning when we finally arrived home from Mass. Santa visited the stockings and placed the modest collection of gifts beneath the tree.
Christmas Morning dawned grey and stormy, and so, though we had planned to make the trip back in to town for Mass, we decided to stay in after all. The children were thrilled with their gifts: Reepicheep with her Littlest Pet Shop edition of Monopoly, Pickle with seven Loony Tunes videos (because when Santa finds things like that at the second hand store, he shows no measure of self control!), the Frog with the entire Love Comes Softly series of movies on DVD, and the Monkey with his collection of coloring books, pencils, books about gross bugs, and little airplane. The Pudge? Well, she was happy with all of the wrapping paper. Santa is almost ashamed to say that he did, in fact, bring for the Pudge two really cool dog toys. Dog toys?! Yep, well, they are spiffy little rubber chewy ballish things with knobby ends all over, and with molars coming through, Santa knew that was just the thing for the Pudge. She loves 'em.
On Christmas Evening, I found myself absolutely unable to keep my eyes open. Odd-it's nearly 2:30 AM as I write this, but that night, I just couldn't make it. It was all of 8:30 when I said to My Darling, "I am going to bed!" I did, too. I went to bed and managed to get some great sleep that night. I also took a nice, long nap on Saturday. I got caught up on sleep that I've been missing out on for months, and the past couple of days have been wonderful.
Pickle substituted for some friends serving Mass this afternoon for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and I get to cantor on New Year's Day. The following day, our choir will travel to another cathedral to present our Lessons and Carols again, and to sing at Mass.
While January is not nearly as heavily scheduled as December was, the dates are beginning to be filled in with various activities. In the midst of it all, I hope each of you was blessed to celebrate the Birth of Our Lord with the ones you love, in the warmth of a sturdy home, with plenty of good food to eat, and the knowledge of being so richly blessed.
Do not forget that Christmas is not yet finished--we must keep in mind that the Magi have yet to arrive...Epiphany awaits!