My childhood memories of Christmas include decorating the house, baking cookies with my mom and siblings, and Christmas parties with friends. When we were younger, we did the whole Santa and reindeer thing as well, but the highlight for me was Midnight Mass. We would spend Christmas Eve at my grandmas with my mom’s brothers and sister and all of our cousins, visiting and opening presents. Then we would go home for a while and try to rest before we went to Mass. It was actually at midnight, which I’m not sure if many churches do that anymore. I just remember the excitement, maybe it was just because I got to stay up late, but as I remember it now, there just seemed to be an aura of peace and joy that night. I would be wearing a new dress, and most everyone at church would be dressed up too. I loved walking into the church and seeing all the decorations, the huge brightly lit Christmas Trees, the wreaths draped with red bows, and the large nativity that was empty through the advent season up until this night. People greeted each other with genuine smiles and well wishes. Then the choir would sing all those beautiful Christmas carols, and for this one night they would add drums and a trumpet. Even though it was the same Mass we sat through Sunday after Sunday, this night, it was different. . . special. At the end of Mass, the choir’s finale was a resounding “Joy to the World,” that you could feel deep in your soul. At its very last note everyone could not help but applaud, which was unheard of back then in a Catholic church. . . but this night was different. . . special. We would go out into the still night air, and it would be freezing outside, but you felt warm on the inside, and those occasions when snow would be falling, just made it complete. I knew then that Christmas wasn’t about the fancy decorations, or the presents, or the celebrating with friends and family. It was about the birth of Jesus and having faith in God no matter what the New Year would bring.
How ever you choose to celebrate this year, it is still the same holiday, and holds all the magic and promise of a brighter tomorrow. This year is definitely different, but each one of us can still make it special.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas Eve!!