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Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family

Month

November 2007

Prayerful reminders as we approach Christmas…

Thanks to Just Another Day Of Catholic Pondering:

Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

It’s baaaack…

Does anyone remember this post?

Or this one?

If you do, then you know that my dear son is so incredibly allergic to poison ivy, it is frightening.

He wouldn’t even accompany us to the woods today, due to his fear of another severe reaction.

Have you ever seen these? (Picture courtesy of Google Images)

Do they look like these? (Picture courtesy of yours truly, taken today)

They are…drum roll, please…POISON IVY BERRIES!

In my infinite wisdom, with the desire to beautify and enhance our Advent decor, I brought this evil weed into my home.

How was I to know that poison ivy has berries?!! My husband, that dear man, was checking out my blog, admiring the lovely pictures of the children and their nature “collection”, when he noticed that the picture of his young son holding a branch of berries, seemingly resembled poison ivy berries. A quick “google image” search revealed the dreadful truth…poison ivy, PART III.

I am so sick of this. I can’t avoid it. It is in my dining room.

But not for long.

Anyone have a blowtorch? Oops. That would be bad. Very bad.

Maybe I’ll just bury it. Oops…propagation? Nooooooooooooooo!

The trash…double-bagged, of course!

Gone fishin’

The blue sky and intense sunshine were quite deceptive…34 degrees with 20 mph winds making it feel more like 28 degrees.

We went to the park anyway.

Afflicted with a serious case of cabin fever, my “big guy” decided the weather was just perfect for fishing.

YOU SHOULD’VE SEEN THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY! (hehehe…the one that got away…)

In the end…he caught a really nice lure…pulled it right out of that tree!

A Walk To The Woods…

"…and when she was bad, she was horrid!"


It’s c-c-c-cold! And windy!

What a lovely day for a walk. It has been more than six weeks since I’ve been able to walk without considerable back pain. Yes, back pain. I feel like a 150 year old woman. The simplest tasks have been nearly impossible.

Until today. We ventured to the woods, walking around the entire perimeter, gathering dried flowers, berries and greenery to adorn our Advent wreath and mantle.

So, what effected this miraculous transformation? Don’t laugh…confession. Not exactly a sacramental confession, but certainly the kind that heals the soul (the sacrament will follow this weekend!) Let me explain:

The past several weeks have been…bad. Struggling everyday to find joy in the midst of pain. Sometimes succeeding. Holding onto those days and praying for relief. Accepting the cross and then begging God to take it back. And slowly, ever so slowly relinquishing joy. Letting it go. Because that is how it happens. It is never stolen, only thrown away. At least in my case.

Do I share these feelings? My despondency, my weakness? Not on your life! I will vanquish. I will overcome. I will help you…but I don’t need help from anyone else…

Problem overlaps problem. Financial issues, a husband who is putting in 15 hours a day 6 days a week, physical incapacity and an elderly grandmother recently hospitalized. With stress, pain accordingly, increases. My attitude and my treatment of the ones I love the most, becomes selfish.

And so I work harder. Pray harder. Suffer more. But I avoid confession. My sins certainly don’t seem mortal, though death and decay would aptly describe how I felt inside.

Sunday. A break in the clouds! “Soul, bedeck thyself with gladness!” I could hear our Lord whisper these words in my heart. Joy! I must be joyful, I must embrace joy! I slept well that night.

Monday, the battle begins anew. That lovely interlude of peace lasted long enough for me to catch my breath before the enemy’s approach. The enemy? My will and the devil’s snares. My cooperation with the Evil One’s intentions and my choice to spread misery by imposing my will upon others, primarily my dear husband, revealed an ugliness I thought I had vanquished years ago.

I became unkind. Manipulative. Vindictive.

Roger’s response? This tired, overworked and underpaid precious man? Patience, love, encouragement…a hot cup of coffee with my favorite creamer the morning after I had been the most vile person ever. More prayers and tears. A humble confession to a couple dear friends. A complete and heartfelt confession and apology to my dear husband. A good night’s sleep (though not long enough!)

The agonizing physical pain of the past few weeks? All but gone. Perhaps it will only last a day. Perhaps it’s gone for good. Either way, it is truly amazing the way the state of our “heart and soul” can exacerbate physical suffering.

So…I’m praising God for His boundless mercy. Begging His forgiveness for my weakness and thanking Him for allowing me to recognize how truly weak I am without Him. Thanking Him for the company of dear friends, a beloved husband and children who still love and trust me, despite my shortcomings.

I’m not super-woman. Thanks for the lesson, Abba! I remember…Confession 8:45 a.m. this Sunday.

Golden Compass author Philip Pullman: Catholic boycotters are ‘nitwits’

The British author Philip Pullman has attacked leading American Catholics as “nitwits” after they called for a boycott of The Golden Compass, which has its world premiere in London tonight.

Read the rest of this article here.

Pullman continues to assert that he is not promoting “militant atheism.” He says the “reader and filmgoer” should be the judge. Here is a brief passage from the Trilogy:

“The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty—those were all names he gave himself.” “He told those that came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie. One of those who came later was wiser than he was, and she found out the truth, so he banished her.” (from The Amber Spy Glass)

Reader…judge for yourself. Filmgoer…check out the reviews

Here is a less than glowing review (2 stars out of 5)from the Times, of The Golden Compass:

The Golden Compass Review

Having brothers and sisters…

Thanks to Per Christum for this one!

Knitting, knitting, knitting…

I love cold weather. Seriously. Snowy, drizzly, frosty and frigid. I tend to be “craftier” during the cold weather months. Knitting especially suits me at this time…cuddly balls of yarn, fluffy garments cascading from working needles and endless inspiration!

Knitting for others is such a pleasure…thoughts and prayers are worked into each item, no matter how small. Each item is as unique as its soon-to-be owner. I tend to “knit on the fly,” altering the pattern to suit my knitting style or the recipient’s taste.

What’s in the workbasket, now?

Working on a pair of fingerless gloves in alpaca.

The boys attended an alpaca fiber show with our dear friend, Mr. Tom Ryan. They were quite taken by the sweet creatures and brought home the delicious, heathery gray yarn that is on the needles.

Two lovely capelets for my sweet granddaughters. My two youngest daughters received these same capelets for Easter and wear them constantly…real princess capes, they call them!

Crowns! I love this pattern. I made eight of these last year. Super quick to knit and definitely a one-of-a-kind stocking stuffer. I stitch on rhinestone buttons and pearls, and knit flat rather than in the round. Much easier to adjust the size, should it stretch.

My favorite hat “recipe.” I’ve knit at least six of these. Very flattering and a quick knit.

Mittens. Mittens, mittens, mittens. My “little kittens” are always losing their mittens…

These weekend the girls and I will finish our St. Lucy Crowns and dolls (patterned after these).
The boys will be searching the woods for greenery for the Advent wreath and to deck the mantle. What fun!

Are you crafting yet? What’s in your basket? I’d love to know!

Soul, bedeck thyself with gladness!


Soul, bedeck thyself with gladness!

Open wide the door!

Imperatives, as we approach the holy season of Advent. These exhortations are also titles for two beautiful compositions performed at a pre-Advent organ concert last night, by Holy Family parish music director, Dr. Elizabeth Krause.

Sitting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament contained within the tabernacle, heart and soul stirred by the sweet melodies which filled the church, I contemplated the following:

*That all the wealth of the world, indeed the universe itself, is but a dim reflection of the splendor that awaits us behind the golden doors of the tabernacle…

*Small, humbled and vulnerable, our Lord comes to us in the Blessed Sacrament, and we become that same tabernacle…

*Receiving our King and Creator…is incomprehensible! It is staggering! The same Jesus that is “eternally begotten by the Father,” worthy of all praise and adulation, cradled in the arms of His Immaculate Mother, is given to me by the holy hands of his priests…unworthy creature that I am.

*Shouldn’t I “bedeck my soul with gladness?” “Open wide the door?”

Blessings to all, as we approach this holy season!

Deck Thyself, My Soul, With Gladness
(Johann Franck – 1649)

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
Leave the gloomy haunts of sadness;
Come into the daylight’s splendor,
There with joy thy praises render
Unto Christ Whose grace unbounded
Hath this wondrous banquet founded.
Higher o’er all the heav’ns He reigneth,
Yet to dwell with thee He deigneth.

Hasten as a bride to meet Him
And with loving reverence greet Him;
For with words of life immortal
Now He knocketh at thy portal.
Haste to ope the gates before Him,
Saying, while thou dost adore Him,
Suffer, Lord, that I receive Thee,
And I nevermore will leave Thee.

He who craves a precious treasure
Neither cost nor pain will measure;
But the priceless gifts of heaven
God to us hath freely given.
Though the wealth of earth were offered,
Naught would buy the gifts here offered:
Christ’s true body, for thee riven,
And His blood, for thee once given.

Ah, how hungers all my spirit
For the love I do not merit!
Oft have I, with sighs fast thronging,
Thought upon this food with longing,
In the battle well nigh worsted,
For this cup of life have thirsted,
For the Friend Who here invites us
And to God Himself unites us.

In my heart I find ascending
Holy awe, with rapture blending,
As this mystery I ponder,
Filling all my soul with wonder,
Bearing witness at this hour
Of the greatness of God’s power;
Far beyond all human telling
Is the power within Him dwelling.

Human reason, though it ponder,
Cannot fathom this great wonder
That Christ’s body e’er remaineth
Though it countless souls sustaineth
And that He His blood is giving
With the wine we are receiving.
These great mysteries unsounded
Are by God alone expounded.

Sun, who all my life dost brighten,
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy the best that any knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth;
At Thy feet I cry, my Maker,
Let me be a fit partaker
Of this blessèd food from heaven,
For our good, Thy glory, given.

Lord, by love and mercy driven
Thou hast left Thy throne in heaven
On the cross for me to languish
And to die in bitter anguish,
To forego all joy and gladness
And to shed Thy blood in sadness.
By this blood redeemed and living,
Lord, I praise Thee with thanksgiving.

Jesus, Bread of Life, I pray Thee,
Let me gladly here obey Thee.
By Thy love I am invited,
Be Thy love with love requited;
From this supper let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep love’s treasure.
Through the gifts Thou here dost give me
As Thy guest in heaven receive me.

Made in the U.S.A.

Here’s a neat link for those who are desperately seeking American made products this holiday season. U.S. Stuff –check it out!

Babies aren’t "eco-friendly…"


What would you say to a woman who chose death for her unborn child and permanent voluntary sterilization to demonstrate her commitment to “saving the planet?” Meet Toni Vernelli. Having laid her unborn child upon the sacrificial altar of environmental extremism, she will never have to worry about leaving behind a “carbon footprint” or anything else, for that matter.

Reality check: Toni Vernelli and the “eco-extremists” like her are a dying breed…this lunacy will leave no generational legacy.

She is also, may God have mercy, a Roman Catholic.

An excerpt from the Daily Mail:

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.

It’s an extreme stance which one might imagine is born from an unhappy childhood or an upbringing among parents who share similar, strong beliefs.

But nothing in Toni’s safe, middle- class upbringing gave any clues as to the views which would shape her adult life. The eldest of three daughters, she enjoyed a loving, close-knit family life.

She excelled at her Roman Catholic school, and her doting parents fully expected her to grow up, settle down and start a family of her own.

“When I finished school, I got a job in retail and at 19, I met my first husband,” says Toni.

“No sooner had we finished our wedding cake than all our relatives started to ask when they could expect a new addition to the family.

“I always told them that would never happen, but no one listened.

“When I was a child, I loved bird-watching, and in my teens that developed into a passion for the environment as well as the welfare of animals – I became a vegetarian when I was 15.

“Even my parents used to smile and say: ‘You’ll change your mind one day about babies.’

“The only person who understood how I felt was my first husband, who didn’t want children either.

“We both passionately wanted to save the planet – not produce a new life which would only add to the problem.”

So, instead of mapping out plans for a family, Toni and her husband began discussing medical options to ensure they would never reproduce.

Toni, from Taunton, Somerset, says: “When I was 21, I considered sterilisation for the first time.

“I’d been on the Pill for five years and didn’t want to take hormone-based contraception indefinitely.

“I went to my GP, but she wouldn’t even consider the idea.

“She said I was far too young and told me I could ‘absolutely not’ be sterilised, and that I was bound to change my mind one day.

“I found her attitude frustrating.

“We decided my husband would have a vasectomy instead. He was 25, just a few years older than me, but the GP allowed him to go ahead.

“I found it insulting that she thought that, just because I was a woman, I’d reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought.”

When Toni was 23, her marriage ended. She says: “We married very young and grew apart.”

Toni found herself young, single and with a new life in London, working for an environmental charity.

But while other young women dream of marriage and babies, Toni was convinced it was her duty not to have a child.

She claims she was far from alone.

“Through my job I made many friends who, like me, were more interested in campaigning, trying to change society and save the planet rather than having families of our own.

“We used to say that if ever we did want children, we’d adopt, as there are so many children in need of a loving family.

“At least then, we’d be doing something positive for the world, rather than something negative.”

Toni was happy, at last, with fellow environmentalists who shared her philosophy. But when she was 25, disaster struck.

“I discovered that despite taking the Pill, I’d accidentally fallen pregnant by my boyfriend.

“I was horrified. I knew straight away there was no option of having the baby.

“I went to my doctor about having a termination, and asked if I could be sterilised at the same time.

“This time it was a male doctor. I remember saying to him: ‘I want to make sure this never happens again.’

“He said: ‘You may not want a child, but one day you may meet a man who does’. He refused to consider it.

“I didn’t like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.

“I’ve never felt a twinge of guilt about what I did, and have honestly never wondered what might have been.

“After my abortion, I was more determined than ever to pursue sterilisation.

“By then, I had my mother’s support – she realised I wasn’t going to grow out of my beliefs, and was proud of my campaigning work.”

At the age of 27, Toni moved to Brighton, where her dream of medical intervention was realised.

Toni says: “My new GP was more forward-thinking and referred me to hospital. I couldn’t wait for the operation.”

As Toni awaited the surgery which would destroy her fertility, she met her future husband, Ed, 38, an IT consultant.

“A week before my sterilisation, I went to an animal rights demonstration and met Ed.

“I liked him immediately, and I told him what I was doing straight away – because if he wanted children then he needed to know I wasn’t the woman for him,” she says.

“But Ed was relieved when I told him how I felt and said he didn’t want children for the same reasons.”

On the morning of surgery, Ed gave Toni a card saying “Congratulations”.


You may read the rest of the article here.

Toni is not alone. As the nonsensical focus on global warming and overpopulation spin out of control, this is simply fruit from a very bad tree.

As the mother of nine “non-eco” friendly children, I’m happy to report that not only are they all leaving “carbon footprints”, but we are managing a few fingerprints here and there, as well.

Pray for Toni Vernelli and the many man and women who share her mistaken perceptions. It is the new breed of selfishness.

Preserving the planet? For whom?

Wishing you all an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving…


I’m stepping out for a few days, taking the down time to spend with my dear family. I wish you all the joy of this holiday of thanks. Thanking God for my many friends and wishing you the best!

The Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

(Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,
When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while.

It may be I’m old-fashioned, but it seems to me to-day
We’re too much bent on having fun to take the time to pray;
Each little family grows up with fashions of its own;
It lives within a world itself and wants to be alone.
It has its special pleasures, its circle, too, of friends;
There are no get-together days; each one his journey wends,
Pursuing what he likes the best in his particular way,
Letting the others do the same upon Thanksgiving Day.

I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in

With shouts of “Hello, daddy!” as they fairly stormed the place
And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small.

Then laughter rang throughout the home, and, Oh, the jokes they told;
From Boston, Frank brought new ones, but father sprang the old;
All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
The struggles we were making and the hardships we’d gone through;
We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly–
It seemed before we’d settled down ’twas time to say good-bye.
Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true.
.

Spirit Of Christmas Award

A big pre-Advent hug to Esther of A Catholic Mom in Hawaii for this sweet award! From the award site:

What is the Spirit of Christmas you ask?

Quite simply it is those that have a generous and giving nature. Those who care about others. Those who have a kind word to say or a broad shoulder to lean on in the times that others need that. Those who display the “Spirit of Christmas”.

Wow! I’m honored…and as the Christmas Season is still a few weeks away, I’d like to pass the award to the following lovely ladies who daily make me smile:

Waltzing Matilda
Knit Together In Love
Totus Tuus Family
As Cozy As Spring
Mary’s Little Lyons…yeah, I know you don’t have time to post anymore, but you still make me smile ;-D

And a “tip o’ the mantilla to Fr. Robert Fox of Fatima Family, for this reminder:

THANKSGIVING is a great family feast and time to thank God for His many blessings. But it is NOT the beginning of the liturgical Christmas season. In fact the Christmas season for the Church and all devout Catholics does not begin until Christmas Eve. THEN IT CONTINUES THROUGH EPIPHANY, Jan. 6, 2008 this year, unto the Baptism of Christ; then back into Ordinary time for a few weeks – until Lent. Advent ( begins evening of Dec. 1 this year ) and is the time to prepare during 4 weeks for the CHRISTMAS SEASON, the birth of Jesus Christ; the Incarnation. A SPIRITUALLY AWESOME TIME. Let us celebrate THE GREAT CHRISTIAN FEASTS AND SEASONS WITH THE CHURCH in our domestic churches, our families. Follow the Church; not the commercial world and consumerism. Prepare for Christ’s birthday during Advent, day by day FOR 4 WEEKS.

Buy Nothing At All

As our family continues to struggle with de-commercializing the Advent/Christmas season, it is certainly encouraging to discover a treasure like this:

For more information on the Buy Nothing Christmas, check out this website sponsored by Canadian Mennonites. My personal favorite? The Buy Nothing Catalog!

Shrinking

This morning, as I sat typing my Thanksgiving and Advent preparation list, I realized I had left out a very important detail. My daughter, Elizabeth. I made a quick call to check on my girl and to find out what arrangements we should make to assist her in coming home for Thanksgiving.

She’s not coming home.

She tells me she’s received an invitation to celebrate at the home of a friend.

“You understand, right Mom? I mean, it’s okay…isn’t it?”

“No…it’s not okay. What can I say? I want you home. I’m selfish…but I do understand. I don’t have to like it, do I?”

That settled it.

A few tears later, I realized once again, how often I have lied to myself. “I can’t wait until they’re grown and independent. Can you imagine, darling? Hot showers, unlimited phone usage, plenty of clean towels, uninterrupted conversation…” These are the things we dream–things we never really believe will happen. “Grown and independent…” Did I really say that? I don’t think I meant it! Will it ever happen?

Well, it’s happening. My family is shrinking. A married daughter with four little ones, another daughter living out of the state and my oldest at home attending college full time, with work, study and sleep in between. Six children remaining, ages thirteen to four…a full house by anyone else’s standards; anyone but mine, that is.

I feel, so very keenly, the absence of “my girls.” For the longest time, it was “us girls.” School together, housework together, cooking together, shopping together. Oh, how I miss it! Jane’s gourmet cooking, Elizabeth’s fabulous cookies and Meredith, keeping everything together with her sweet smile and efficiency.

This Thanksgiving the table will be set, the candles lit, the wine poured and prayers offered. Surrounded by family and friends, we will toast one another and feast. A happy and joyous day.

But the table will be a little less crowded this year…

Modesty is the best policy…


Does this guy scare you? Is his gaze, perhaps, a bit too serene?

Apparently my four year old thinks so. A dear family friend revealed my sweet girl’s very practical solution to “prying eyes.”

Our friend’s guest bath doesn’t have the traditional wall dispenser for toilet paper. The solution? The handy-dandy Toilet Paper Butler! Another novel solution to the storage of extra rolls? A hand-crafted top-hat sitting on the back of the tank. Nifty and dapper!

Dapper doesn’t just cut it, however, when a very modest four year old encounters the bold stare of a mustached gentleman. Her solution: remove the top-hat from the extra roll and cover the gentleman’s eyes. Voila! Privacy is assured.

It seems my little one is not the only young lady to have a problem with the “bathroom valet”…another young lady turned the gentleman’s face to the wall.

You have to love modest children!

Recovered…

What if this had been lost forever?

Or this?

Or even this?

Nearly four years of data (7.5 GB of important stuff!) trapped inside the seemingly-beyond-repair-hulk-of-a-computer…now recovered. Thanks to my dear brother. All of Rylee’s baby pictures. Joseph’s First Holy Communion. Michael’s homeschool Kindergarten graduation. Memories, memories, memories.

Last night, we all reminisced over these lovely images. How much everyone had grown! It’s amazing how much changes in a few short years.

So, thanks again, brudda! You are the best!

For all the Lego-maniacs…

Who has the time to do this stuff?! Monty Python?! Legos?! This is insane…my boys are still laughing!

Paradox

What happens when an “immovable object” meets an “irresistible force?”

Grace!

Such is God’s way, when the seemingly impossible is overcome by the most “irresistible force” in the universe and beyond.

Praising God for the answer to a seemingly impossible prayer!

22 And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 23 And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief.

Luke 9:22

The Season of Advent


A crisp 39 degree morning, a plate full of apple spice muffins, a cup of coffee and Christmas In Italy. Ah, the sweet anticipation of Advent and the many feasts we will celebrate!

Our family’s approach to the season has undergone many changes, over the last two decades. The first few years were spent caught up in the manic-frenzied-howmanyshoppingdaysareleftuntilChristmas-insanity that starts sometime after All Hallow’s Eve and ends with the big “Day After Christmas Sale, Don’t Miss It!”

The Christmas tree was up no later than November 10th, the Christmas cards sent the day after Thanksgiving, the presents wrapped-under-the-tree-collecting-dust for no less than three weeks prior to Christmas Day. The Advent wreath was frequently neglected.

Shop, shop, shop. Bake, bake, bake. Wrap, wrap, wrap.

Pray, pray, pray? Only that everything would be finished on time!

Oh, how much has changed! For more than a decade, we have been observing a “season” that is a bit different than the one we had celebrated in the past.

December 1st: We continue a lovely tradition which we incorporated and altered a bit from A Year With God. Each child and adult will draw a slip of paper from a jar. On each slip of paper is a name: St. Joseph, the Blessed Virgin, the Angel, the Shepherd, the Ox, the Donkey, etc. During the entire month of December, each person tries to emulate the virtues of the particular “Nativity figure” whose slip was drawn from the jar. A nightly accounting is made, with particular focus on sacrifices offered. The sacrifices are written on a 6 inch long slip of paper, which will be glued (end to end) and incorporated into a chain. Every year, we try to make the chain longer than the prior year. We have also used these slips and sometimes pieces of straw, to create a “soft bed for the Baby Jesus.”

December 2nd: The First Sunday of Advent, our family collects beautiful greenery to adorn our Advent wreath and the mantle. The Nativity set that belongs to our oldest son, Arthur, is always placed on the mantle. There are several Nativity sets, as each child has received their own as a gift from Grandma Martha. The various figures are placed in different locations around the room, as they will “journey” closer and closer to Bethlehem. The Advent Wreath is always placed in the front window of our home. Every evening, the entire family gathers around the wreath. Dad reads an appropriate Scripture or Psalm. The room is darkened. The candle(s) are lit according to the week and then everyone sings “O Come, O come, Emmanuel.” The wreath is then carried back to the window, lit, and the family sits in darkness for a couple of minutes before extinguishing the lit wreath.

December 5th & 6th: Set out your shoes this evening! St. Nicholas is coming! We read the traditional stories about St. Nicholas and Black Peter. After the Advent Wreath ceremony, we all set our shoes on the hearth. What will St. Nicholas leave this year?

December 13th: Ah, the Feast Of St. Lucy! Before sunrise, mommy awakens Charlotte and Emily. In their white gowns with red belts, they will don their evergreen crowns (we will be using these this year) and serve the entire family these.

December 8th
: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Candies shaped like roses and a lovely tea in the afternoon. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the evening. Sweet!

The Christmas Tree
: We will start looking for a fresh one, sometime in the middle of December, but will not set it up until 3 or 4 days before Christmas. We never turn on the lights of the tree at night, until we have lit the Advent Wreath, first. The tree will be left up, along with the Nativity sets until the day after Epiphany. After all…that’s when the “season” ends!

The Christ-Mass
: The Traditional Latin Mass at Midnight! Alleluia! Christ our Savior is born! Alleluia!

Christmas Day
: Where did all those presents come from?! And the stockings are full?! It must have been the Christ Child and the Angels! We just can’t wait to open them after Mass! A joyful feast in the afternoon…and the “season” continues!

December 26th: The Feast Of Stephen. Our Proto-Martyr.

December 28th
: The Feast Of the Holy Innocents. Arthur’s birthday. We remember all the “holy innocents” on this day, particularly the littlest victims of abortion.

And that’s just the month of December! January 1st marks the great Solemnity of Mary, Mother Of God. We close with Epiphany, on January 6th. The Wise Men take their place before the Holy Infant. We sing “We Three Kings” and thank God for the conclusion of the Christmas Season.

Shopping? We really don’t shop much, until the week before Christmas. We don’t wrap presents until a couple of days before. Usually the same day that we set up the tree. These changes have changed us…we approach the entire season with the peace and joy that I believe our Lord intended us to have. Things don’t always go perfectly. There are the inevitable evenings that someone is sick, or dad is late. But the “mania” is gone.

Christ-Mass
is back. Deo Gratias!

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