It was a warm, muggy and very foggy morning as my wife and I exchanged our Christmas gifts today. My best gift was a Garmin for my car, which Margaret had already given me for our Thanksgiving trip north in November. I was fortunate enough to get some good advice on jewelry at Brighton (husbands take note) and that ensemble was well received.
Margaret cooked up a great breakfast, a blessed change of pace from our daily regimen of oatmeal to clean out our arteries. Right now we are sitting in the family room with our IPads and a roaring fire on Bright House Cable channel 999.
We attended our parish's 7 PM Mass last night, with music performed by our Life Teen band and singers. The parish had already offered two masses at 4 PM (church and social hall) that were both beyond backed. As it turned out, our Mass was packed to the doors, too. The celebrant was our newly ordained associate pastor offering his first Christmas. I would say, unequivocally, that his sermon was truly remarkable. His inspiring sermon began with humorous vignettes from "Elf on a Shelf" and concluded with a timeless quote from the great theologian Karl Barth. I didn't know that was even possible. (To hear a recent seminarian quote Karl Barth at all is a most encouraging sign.)
Christmas Mass is always a time when my wife gets to see her alumni home for the holidays, now with their own children in many cases. It is also a time when hundreds of school alumni shake my hand and say "Merry Christmas, Mr. Curran." That is not my name, of course, as we did not change our names when we married in 1998. Years ago I decided to just go with the flow, though I insist on being called "Mr. Dr. Curran," as my wife does hold an Ivy League doctorate. Some years ago my parish announced the death of Thomas Burns, and I just stood there where I always sit and no one batted an eye.
But after Mass last night we were able to see many old friends, and then another whole stream of friends and alumni as folks began arriving early for the 9 PM Mass, which also appeared to be attracting a lot of people as well. No fist fights in the parking lot, happy to say, though the presence to two Altamonte Springs police cruisers has a tranquilizing effect, too.
We have no family here in Florida so it will just be a quiet day here with a delicious ham dinner around 5 PM. This has been our practice for many years now. I can remember 40 years ago when I was eager and able to get to my family homestead for Christmas morning on the first of the day's Allegany passenger jet to land in Buffalo, but like most of us, I have learned over the years that Christmas is sacred and special everywhere...even in the simple circumstances of a stable in Bethlehem.