Christmas Memories & Mystery
Christmas has always had a very special place in my heart’s memories. Our Mom would prepare many festive foods, fruitcakes, plum pudding, cookies and our kitchen resembled a small bakery/candy factory with fudge, divinity, pralines and pecan logs. Our crib was put up early in Advent (in anticipation of Jesus’ birth) and we played with the manger scene by arranging and rearranging Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, sheep and the donkey to our liking. Advent/Christmas season was an exciting time in our family, a time of waiting and happy anticipation of Santa, more than Jesus. I prayed for snow so that Santa’s sleigh would be able to travel to our farm.
One particular Christmas holds tender memories and mystery for me. I was three years old when in the late afternoon of the day before Christmas Eve, my Mom took me with her to deliver Christmas treats to an elderly man (Jack) who lived alone in a wooden shed by our parish church. As I reflect now, his small dwelling looked like a “manger”. It was a cold, dark and frosty evening and I asked Mom, “Why are we taking this man food”? She said, “Jack, is all alone and does not have any family. He would not have any Christmas if we didn’t bring these goodies. We are his family.”
This long ago childhood experience of Christmas holds precious memories in my heart even into the present Christmas 2014. My Mom, without any words modelled for me the true meaning and mystery of Christmas. “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us …We have all received, grace upon grace…no one has ever seen God but the only Son revealed God to us. “ St. John 1:14 ff. Christ chose to “live and be” in each of us. May you find time for yourself and your loved ones to ponder and receive in your hearts again the Gift of Christ’s enormous love for you this Christmas.
“For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his to the Father through the features of men’s faces”. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Yes, Christ plays in the features of Jack and in each of us!
Rose Ann Barmann, OSB