Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas is coming....

I can't believe how quickly time is going.  Today is already the fourth Sunday of Advent.. so light the third purple candle.. the final candle on the Advent wreath.

Though I've had my Christmas decorations up for a while, I have not been in the Christmas spirit.  Working retail one is bombarded with negative people.. yelling and fighting over items being in stock, their orders not in on time, etc.  I come home exhausted and find myself waiting for the season to be over.

This is not to say I'm anti-Christmas.  On the contrary.. I am very much looking forward to the celebration of Christmas morning Mass... the ringing of the bells at the return of the Gloria being sung once again.  I'm just over the whole commercial aspect of the holiday.  Trees are great.. gifts are great.. but when people forget the humble origins of Christmas, the holiday becomes nothing more than an excuse to go into debt.

I have included a picture of my modest Christmas tree.  I didn't have the desire or energy to drag out my usual artificial tree (real trees are too expensive for me) -- assemble it, decorate it.. and eventually pack the whole thing up.  I went out in search of an easy tree.

I found the perfect "Charlie Brown" tree at a local nursery.  I always loved the sparse trees that no one else could possible love.  So when I saw this 5 1/2 odd ball, I had to take it home.  The sales lady was a bit surprised... she had no idea what someone would do with such a tree.

Once decorated, like Charlie Brown's little tree.. it looks quite nice.  I love how the ornaments really stand out.. and believe it or not, it holds ALL the ornaments I put on my fat 7ft tree. - AND, it only take two minutes to assemble and disassemble.  No fuss tree!

For those who are fans of Victorian style Christmases, you will recognize this tree as a "feather tree".. the first style of artificial trees available.. originally made out of goose feathers on wooden dowels. Other people though may think of the line from the famous "Christmas Story" movie:  "It looks like it was made of... green pipe cleaner!".  My favorite comment came from my godson Gavin, who when seeing the picture of facebook said it looks like a twig.  So there it is, my Christmas "twig".

You may note the nativity set - it belonged to my Grandparents.  They purchased it their first Christmas together back in 1953, and it was under their tree ever since.  I am a strict believer though that baby Jesus does not get put into the crib until Christmas morning.  In a time when Christmas decorations go up in November, I think it's important to remember that the real joy of Christmas comes when we mark the birth of the Word made Flesh.

While I try to keep up with my baking and finish my shopping.. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas -- and want you to remember that despite the glitz and glamour this holiday may offer... it all started with a poor child born in a stable... laid to rest where animals feed.  "Keep Christ in Christmas!"  :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Today is the third Sunday of Advent - also known as Gaudete Sunday.  It is named after the first word of today's Intoit prayer: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. (Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.  Philippians 4:4-5).  

Today is one of two days in the year where the color of the vestments used at Mass may be Rose colored.  Note I said rose and not pink.  The idea of using Rose vestments is to show on this Sunday the excitement we feel in our hearts at the coming of the Lord.  As it says in the words of the Introit, we Rejoice in the Lord always.  Rose is a color between the Advent color of purple (penance and waiting) and the Christmas color of white.. a sign that our waiting is almost at an end.  We know the Lord is coming.

As the color of the candles on our Advent wreath reflect the liturgical colors of the season, we light the rose colored candle today.  Some people mistakenly light the rose colored candle on the last Sunday of Advent... now you are in the know and can correct such Liturgical faux pas.  :)

Like many of you, I have been busy writing out and sending Christmas cards.  I enjoy this practice, except for the high cost of stamps.  I look forward to sending and receiving cards and the small notes and letters that sometimes accompany them.  They also make for great decorations!

I've noticed a trend though among people I have exchanged cards with in the past.  I try to be very sensitive to the beliefs of my family and friends.  I wish my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah (even though I am not Jewish), send out Religious Cards to my friends and family who are practicing Christians, and have the secular "holiday" cards for those who are not "religious", but still enjoy a secular version of the holiday season.  After all, my mind set is not to use this holiday to push my beliefs down people's throats -- that would be counter productive.. but to join them in a sense of joy and celebration.

This sentiment has not been reciprocated.

Every year, people still insist on writing within cards or in Facebook messages: "Merry Xmas!".  I do not celebrate "Xmas".. I celebrate Christmas.  I can't stand this abbreviation.  Though it may have started out as a Christian abbreviation for Christmas, using the Greek letter X to represent the first letter in Christ's name (in the old Greek spelling), it has now been used to take Christ out of Christmas, and make it purely a commercial and secular holiday.

My friends know how I feel, and yet they still can't bring themselves to wish me, a practicing Catholic, a Merry CHRISTmas.  Now, when I see "Xmas" written somewhere, I have taken to putting a "P" on top of the "X"... to make the Greek symbol of Christ's name known as the "chi-rho".  

Oh well... I'm still Rejoicing today.. still writing CHRISTmas cards and trying to gear up for the baking that I will soon be doing.   :)