Joy to the World!

Christmas!Nativity at Christ the King Catholic Church, Dallas

Christmas!
Nativity at Christ the King Catholic Church, Dallas

Today is Christmas and I happy to write this post!  My children enjoyed a beautiful morning.  We all opened some presents and then got dressed for mass.  The forecast had been calling for some winter weather.  Living in Texas I’m never sure what that phrase means.  Growing up in New Jersey it always meant there could be any form of frozen precipitation accompanied by pretty cold temperatures.  The result usually lead to pandemonium at the supermarket and treacherous driving conditions.  But here it could mean anything.  Don’t forget that last year not a single snowflake fell.  Not one.  We headed out the door for the 11AM mass facing a cold, driving rain.  This really wasn’t that bad but I noticed the roads were abnormally silent, much as had been the CVS at 10PM the night before.  Granted, it was Christmas Eve and I was just picking up some last minute wrapping paper and stocking candy.  Nonetheless, I checked in (at CVS) on my phone and was very tempted to comment “Just me and the hookers” in the status box.  I don’t want to judge but if they weren’t hookers they had a very poor fashion sense.  Anyway, we got to mass and discovered that only about 35 other parishioners had come out this morning.  I find this insane considering how many people ONLY come to mass on Christmas.  The pastor remarked that the evening vigil mass the night before had, indeed, been packed.  Again, I thought, the weather’s not that bad.

Buddy the Christmas Terrier, a gift from my mother-in-law to my kids.

Buddy the Christmas Terrier, a gift from my mother-in-law to my kids.

It was at church that I had a talk with my son that made me remember the true meaning of this day.  He was being his usual “I don’t like church” self.  The big threat for me is always to tell him that if I have to take him out of church he won’t get a donut.  And I did have to tell him that and I did have to take him out.  Truthfully, I didn’t even know if any of the donut shops would be open today.  I was really starting to get aggravated by his behavior.  He’s capable of being better than this.  He was just pushing my limits.  So we walked to the vestibule.  It’s hard not to be noticed with so few people in the church.  But in the back of the church there is plenty of room to run around and not disturb anyone.  I let him walk about and he took me by the hand and lead me over to an area of the narthex that was surrounded by a wrought iron fence with a gate in it.  “Daddy?” he said, “Won’t you open this for me?”  We walked into the little area (turned out to be a baptistry) and I spotted a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her Son.  Interesting to see this considering the focus of this day is always on the newborn Christ-child.

The woman hates me.  Wilma gave my son these drums.

The woman hates me. Wilma gave my son these drums.

I started talking to my son about the statue.  “Do you see this woman?” I asked him.  “Who is this?”  He replied that it was Mary and that she was holding Jesus.  “Mary is sad because her baby is hurt” I told him.  That’s how Daddy feels when you don’t behave at mass.  I knew I was stretching but I think he got the point.  Then I looked at the statue a bit more and began to think of several little ones who have already gone home to God — my nieces and great-nephew and how their mommies and daddies grieved over them.  I had to explain to my son why I was crying and so I told him about his cousins.  You know, I think he understood what I was saying.  He straightened up in a hurry.  But then I remembered how precious life is and how we ought to welcome the little child because Christ came to us on this day as a helpless baby.  And they really are so cute.  So they need a little discipline now and then…  God helps us out.

On the ride home, the rains continued pouring from the sky.  Back at home, our guests arrived.  It is awesome to spend Christmas Day with an aunt named Santa!  Some friends who live nearby came over.  We exchanged the grown up gifts.  All in all it was a beautiful Christmas Day.  And as if the miracle of our existence and of our salvation wasn’t enough, God saw fit to give us a white Christmas here in Texas!  I stood on my porch like a child staring at the big flakes gently falling to the ground.  What a beautiful day!

Oh, and my wife and kids got me a gun!

No, for real, they got me a gun.  Welcome to Texas!

No, for real, they got me a gun. Welcome to Texas!  If you look closely you can see the joy mixed with fear on my face.

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