Friday, December 23, 2011

The Eve of Christmas Eve

This has been the most low-key build-up to Christmas I've had in years.  For one thing, I'm not responsible for the annual Christmas repast which is a first in 15 years.  I'm not going to know what to do with myself Christmas Day!  Usually, I come back from Mass in a bust to get a special roast in the oven and other things prepared that we wouldn't normally eat on any ordinary day.  This year, my newly married sister asked to do the honors. I'm responsible for bringing dessert, and I am ashamed to admit to those of you who have been baking furiously that I visited an excellent German bakery and let them do the honors.

This is the first time in many years that I'm working 5 days a week.  Even though I've had to work full-time for years, I always worked 10 or 12 hours shifts.  Working 50 hours a week with a 90 minute daily commute simply hasn't left me time to bake or shop til I drop.  So things are going to be a bit subdued.  The one thing that hasn't been subdued is my prayer life, and that's the preparation most important to me.

I live in an area where people go way overboard at Christmas.  The Griswolds have nothing on some of my neighbors.  The lights are amazing.  As a child, I looked with great anticipation to see these lights and once the magic of being a "believer" came to an end, the lights were never that enchanting again.  Until tonight, as I drove home from Adoration, and I chose to see the lights in a different way.  Like the little town of Moravia that lines the streets and paths with candle-lit sacks on Christmas Eve, the twinkling lights aren't necessarily there to point out someone's house to Santa.  I choose now to see them lit in anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child.

Some people were losing their minds over the winter Solstice this past week.  I'm convinced the only reason they care is because they're so anti-Christian they'll look for any reason to minimize the blessed miracle of Christmas.  However, at work, it was a decidedly different story.  Every day the chapel underwent some slight change as we got closer to the end of Advent.  Finally, the manger made its appearance today, with Mary and Joseph kneeling beside an empty manger, kept company by two sleeping donkeys.  Next week when the Babe is present, I will have to take a photo of this Nativity scene.  I have never seen a more beautiful version of the Holy Parents and I have to believe the pieces probably belong to the nuns and they are generous enough to share them.

Today, there was such excitement in the atmosphere that I almost felt like a child back at school.  I believe it's because for the first time in my career as a nurse I'm working in a place where there is no shame or offense associated with something as beautiful as a Nativity scene.  We wrapped up work in my departments a little early and everyone was able to leave by 3.

When I got home, I decided to try to pick up the last few gifts and as I walked among the other shoppers, many of them puffing cigarettes while attached to cell phones, I thought of how much I don't belong to the world, to the point where it's painful to go shopping.  I also realized that I hadn't gotten my husband a single thing, nor had I gotten any candy for the stockings.  I thought of Louis Martin, remarking with some satisfaction about how it would be the last year to fill a shoe with surprises for Therese on Christmas Eve, and the hurt it caused her.  But it also brought about her conversion, so here's hoping that our subdued, lower-key Christmas brings my family closer to Him in Whose Name we celebrate.


  1. Merry Christmas Joyce, to you and your family.

  2. And to you and yours Manny! Is little Matthew all excited?

  3. Merry Christmas to you and thank you so much for sharing your life in this blog. I have received so much encouragement and help from your reflections and your honesty. Many thanks.

    God Bless you!

  4. Anonymous
    Thank you so much! Your kind words are a gift to me today. Have a Blessed Christmas and let us continue to support each other in prayer.

  5. Wishing you a very merry Christmas. The desserts will be wonderful. I wish we had a great bakery in our area although it's probably a good thing we don't!

  6. I don't do gifts for Christmas. I tell everyone not to buy me gifts, its Jesus birthday not mine. No one can relate. Maybe I should have joined that convent after all.

    Merry Christmas!


  7. Dear Joyce...just stopping by to wish you and your family a Most Blessed and Joyful Christmas, filled with the Peace and Love of our Infant King. Thank you for you friendship, which is more special to me than you know.

    Right now, I wish I could borrow my guardian angel's wings to help me get through the next 24 hours. I was sick this past week, right after being away, and so beneath the tree is pretty bare of gifts, and the decorating is hit and miss. I will be trying to "fly" through some necessary chores before dinner is served tomorrow. But what I really wish I could do is steal away for a holy hour : )

    No matter what happens with food and gifts, etc., may we all have Christmas in our hearts..the only place it really counts!

    Love you Joyce!

  8. Thank you Patricia.
    Your "visit" makes me think of neighbors, popping in at Christmas with a plate of homemade cookies and wishes of good cheer. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Our tree is pretty bereft of gifts compared to years past but no one is complaining. I was feeling horrible yesterday and even had to go to bed for an hour in the afternoon. I was worried I would miss Christmas Eve Vigil Mass where Rebecca was scheduled to read. I have since figured out what was wrong with me - my employees in one department gave me a beautiful Christmas bouquet with these gorgeous red hour-glass shaped roses. Well, I'm allergic to roses, and unfortunately, I never made the connection until this morning. I brought the bouquet to my mother's house last night for Christmas Eve dinner and was sneezing and coughing most of dinner. This morning, I woke up feeling much better, and I'm sure it's because the flowers are gone! I'm sure the roses were a sign from Our Little Friend that she interceded for some very big intentions I prayed for, but as with all good things, the roses came at a price. Anyway...

    I hope you are feeling better too. Traveling can just wear you down, especially at this time of year. I know what you mean about stealing away - I actually did that one year for a quick Rosary at the Adoration Chapel of the Pink Sisters. Had I told the family where I was going, they would have jumped on me, so I just said I had to drop off a gift to someone and no one had a clue where I really went.
    I love you too, Patricia, and the gift of your friendship and your love for Our Lord is precious to me and to Him.

  9. I can't believe it, Internet Explorer is letting me comment in my name. They must have fixed the problem.

    Little Matthew has been getting way way too many presents. Don't forget my wife's side is Jewish and he gets at least one present for every night of Chanunkah. I can't believe how much Matthew has gotten. Too much really. Such materialism is not good.

  10. Blessed Christmas Season to you and yours Joyce. I am glad you had a peace filled Christmas. Great reference to little Therese and her *stocking* : ) ~Theresa

  11. And to you and yours Theresa. I've enjoying your reading your gratitude list this week, though sorry about all the call. I know how I feel when the work cell phone rings after hours. Ah, well, one of these days, it won't be our problem any more. Meanwhile, we try to make the best of it. Hoping to make it to the Monastery New Year's Eve - we'll see!


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