Thursday, December 23, 2010


It's the eve of the eve. I'm really remarkably ready for Christmas this year.

For the first time in decades, I'm not worrying about the Christmas services. I have a bit of nostalgia about it--there was a real 'rush' about those Eucharists and a real commitment to making them special, wondrous, unforgettable.

I never fretted much about the C&E crowd--"Christmas and Easter" parishioners or visitors. In fact, since they wouldn't be there much at other times, I always wanted to make Christmas and Easter astonishing for them.

But this year, I'm not fretting at all.

In fact, I'm wondering where to go to church or if I will go to church at all.

If it weren't for John's dinner party, I'd go to St. Peter's in Cheshire, probably to the second of the three services. In the early evening using Rite One. That might be soothing.

But my friend, John, has a dinner party on Christmas Eve. I've never gone to it and this year we can. His plot is to make people go to Midnight Mass with him at Christ Church, New Haven, the best Anglo-Catholic parish in the diocese. I probably will. It will be a show of great proportions with incomparable music and lots of incense.

Christmas on Saturday was always my greatest nightmare as a parish priest. It meant having two or three services on Friday, a Christmas Mass (hence the word: "Christ-Mass") and two services on Sunday with only the most committed 'church rats' there. Lots of work and no time to really celebrate for me.

This year I don't have all that. I truly look forward to it.

Our trees are trimmed. There are gifts (Bern and I only give each other things we've made--she does some remarkable arty thing for me and I write her a poem or a story. This year, not worrying about 'churchy stuff', I wrote her two stories and bound them in the kind of book you use for photographs. They are a little hokey--since Christmas is, after all, the permission to be hokey and sentimental. But they are good, I think. I hope she loves them.

For the last week and a half I've been barred from the TV room on our second floor because she was working on my present. I don't watch morning TV anyway so it was no problem, especially since the things she's made for me in the last five years (since we've been doing this 'make something Christmas') are all now hanging on the walls of our house. She may have missed her calling. Or, perhaps, found her calling in the things she makes for me in multi-media forms.

Josh and Cathy and the girls won't be here for Christmas. They came here for Thanksgiving and alternate years. But since Cathy's parents live in Baltimore, Josh's family is having its first "family Christmas". They have a tree and 3 girls and we sent them some of the family ornaments. We'll go down on Jan 6--take care of Tegan on Fri (Cathy will give the nannie the day off) and have a second Christmas with them.

Here in Cheshire it will be quiet and sweet. Mimi will be here, but not Tim (her partner) since his parents are moving to Florida and he promised to help them pack over Christmas. The only other person with us will be John, my friend. He always comes for Christmas dinner.

It will be quiet and sweet. Since Mimi is the introvert of our two kids, we'll be able to be with her completely, though she can stay only a little over a day. She works for the American Ballet Theater and they're in the midst of a performance run. But it will be lovely, quiet and sweet.

May I wish you that, more than that, of course, but at least that--May your Christmas be lovely, quiet and sweet.

And may Santa and the Christ Child bring you gifts you didn't expect or knew you wanted....


And, as my friend, Ann's card said this year: "Lang may yer lum reek."

That is, the card says, an old Scottish New Year's greeting: "Long may your chimney smoke...."

Not a bad wish in this weather.

Merry Christmas. May Light and Joy be your companions this Christmastide....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.