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Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve 2007

The sky is blue, the sun is shining brightly upon the newly-fallen snow, and the icy streets gleam wickedly under the coating of salt and sand. The bitter temperature is rising as the winds shift from north to south, and the friendly neighborhood squirrels are alternately chattering and running along the old wooden fence that borders the property.

My German Shepherd is curled up on the couch as I write these words, her long nose tucked softly under her bushy tail. My Christmas lights shine brightly and especially highlight the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that graces the wall in the corner next to the tree.

The gifts are wrapped and await only bows and ribbons. My food contributions are in the refrigerator, and the wine for tonight and tomorrow is cooling in the garage. I have yet to wrap the two special bottles of red wine for my brother and his girlfriend, who will be joining my family for tomorrow's feast.

I had to run out this morning to complete just a couple simple errands, and let me tell you, the roads are still just awful. However, with the warming temperatures today, by the time I must journey down to the home of my dear brother, the main highways should be fine. Just the same, I will be taking extra care.

Mass this afternoon begins at 4 pm; I plan to arrive a little early so as to spend extra time in prayer and preparation to receive my Savior. Last year, unfortunately, this Mass was a Life Teen Mass, and it was so disruptive to any attempt at contemplation that I left completely rattled; yet grateful to be able to celebrate the birth of Christ.

This year, while I pray the Mass doesn't involve drums and other inappropriate non-liturgical instruments, nothing will disrupt my joy. For just a few weeks ago, I thought I was going to lose my Mom, and this very night I will see her and rejoice not only at the birth of Christ, but her own continuing presence in our lives. And people, this world is a better place because my Mom is in it. This docile yet fiery matriarch of our tiny family is teaching me more about living sacrificially than I'll ever be able to read in the lives of the Saints. It will take me the rest of my life to unpack what she has taught me and continues to teach. And so the greatest gift this Christmas is my mother.

Thank you, God, for another Christmas with Mom. I couldn't ask for anything more.

And so today's Mass will be offered in thanksgiving for her life and her sacrifices. After Mass I'll head home, pack up the car, feed the dog, and we'll journey south, mouth watering for the old family tradition of oyster stew and various treats, and the newer tradition of wine and cheese, great conversation and relaxation in front of a good movie.

Mom has already told me she got gifts for my dog...three squeaky toys to drive us all crazy, likely accompanied by treats that I won't give her at any other time of the year. But we've discovered that her presence in the home, curled up on the rug in front of the fireplace, completes the scene of family contentment making us rather resemble a painting from the Saturday Evening Post. Especially considering that my brother's and my own antics juxtaposed against the peacefulness of the dog and the Christmas tree and the serene mother is reflective of Christmases past, and hopefully, future.

It has been a difficult Advent, a true period of waiting. I did not succeed in my Advent promises, but at the same time, the sacrifices that were made were some I could not have planned and did not understand until it was complete. So as we began Advent with a certain hope, travelled through that dark valley and came out the other side, always our companion has been hope. Even admist the darkest trials, because the Savior of the World has come, we are not alone. We come to realize that even when we feel most abandoned, that is when we must behold the face of Christ, for it is only in our suffering and patience that we are able to most resemble Him. And even when we can't understand it, we learn that just as the Blessed Mother cradled her Son in that cave so long ago, so she now cradles us and directs our own gaze to the Star of Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas!


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Merry and Blessed Christmas, my dear friend!

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Adoro,

What a beautiful Christmas Eve post!

Just stopping by to wish you and your loved ones a happy and blessed Christmas and all the best for 2008!



swissmiss said...

Merry Christmas, Adoro. Have a wonderful time with your family.

eliztrin said...

Merry Christmas! Every blessing of the Christ Child to you and your loved ones.

Ma Beck said...

Merry Christmas, Adoro!

Anonymous said...

Adoro te Devote,

Why do well-meaning people 'mess' with the Mass? Yesterday, at Sunday Mass I heard an adaptation of the Irish melody "Go Lassie Go" or "Wild Mountain Thyme" into a hymn by David Hass of Gia Music. Talk about be yanked out of the Mass. Oh well, it could have been the Brady Bunch hymn.

Moving on - Merry Christmas and an excellent New Year!!!

Adoro said...

Merry and Blessed Christmas, everyone!

anon ~ I don't know why people mess with the Mass. I just got home and while it wasn't Life Teen, it WAS a band, it was very loud, and it seemed protestant.

But Holy Communion was still Holy Communion, and I know we were all blessed to be in the presence of Christ himself.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Hello Adoro, Thanks for your beautiful post, you're indeed blessed to have your Mom still with you. My Mom went home to God almost 20 years ago, and at this time of year I remember and still miss her. I know you will have a wonderful time with the family, and your sweet pooch. All of us -- husband and two sons, plus the 3 cats who are enjoying batting at the Christmas tree, will be enjoying our dinner tomorrow, and I do hope that the music at Mass will enhance your joy. There will be some pieces on the programme tonight that I wish I didn't have to play, but as organist I don't have any input into the choice of repertoire. If I did, we'd be singing chant! Anyway, like you, I'm determined to retain my joy, that joy, as Jesus said that "no one can take from you" -- the joy of His presence, and the celebration of His Birth. Merry Christmas to you, your family, and canine companion. (Can you tell I'm an animal lover!!). God bless, and safe travels! Regards from Canada.

uncle jim said...

Weather here is right around freezing and no snow left on the ground and none in the forecast. Roads are wonderfully clear and other than temperature, you wouldn't know it was Christmas eve.

We'll try an early Mass tomorrow morning, and I'll be keeping all of my blog friends in my prayers. ...following yonder star.

UltraCrepidarian said...

Merry Christmas, my friend!


Terry Nelson said...

Merry Christmas Adoro!

Adoro said...


Now....where IS that coffee....?