Tuesday, December 21, 2004

'Tis the Season

For Unto Us a Child is Born

In this season of yuletide joy there shall be no political ramblings from me.

This has always been my favorite time of the year. Of course as a child it meant presents were on the way, be they from Santa or mom and dad. But even as a child Christmas meant more than presents, it meant lots and lots of food on Christmas Eve. And it meant being with my entire family.

Actually, the family part wasn't that significant, and not because family was unimportant. It's just that it was easy to take being with the whole family for granted. After all, we all basically lived near each other. My brother Joe got married when I was eight, but he lived only a few miles away. My sister moved out when I was eleven, but also only moved a few miles from us. My other brothers sort of came and went, but they were always nearby.

But then I went to college and Christmas took on a whole new meaning. Of course it was always great to escape for a few weeks from the barren wasteland called Atlanta, especially for three weeks. But Christmas Eve - not Christmas Day - was especially important. It was a time to see my family, to have my brother's baked clams, to eat the octupus. It's the one night a year that we could all be together and enjoy each other's company.

Eventually my family members started moving further away from my hometown, out into Long Island, and the opportunities for us all to be with each other grew sparser. Then I moved down here for graduate school, and there was really no chance for us all to be together except for Christmas. The last two years I was in a far off land of Fargo, North Dakota, however, so even that one special night was not to be.

This year I go home again. Though the circumstances of my being in New York this year for Christmas are somewhat sad, I am exceedingly happy to be with my family for the second most important religious holiday of the year. I have yet to see my two-month old nephew, have not seen another newphew in almost three years, and have missed one other niece's growth spurt. It's tough being so far from them all, but at least for one night we can sit down, talk, and eat ourselves silly.

Yesterday Mass closed with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," my favorite Advent hymn. It harkened back to my childhood days, and for the first time in a while I really felt that Christmas spirit come upon me. It also reminded me of what this holiday is all about. Yes it is about family, but especially of a family that found itself in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. It's easy to forget that. Heck, even when we cranky Christians complain about some uptight ninny moaning about a creche outside of City Hall, or when we groan upon hearing "Happy Holidays," or criticize the materialism of the holiday - I think that even when we do all that we ourselves still truly forget that this is a time to celebrate the most wonderful gift ever bestowed upon humanity. And God became man. Reflect on that for just a moment. God so loved us all that He lowered himself - He emptied himself and took the form of a servant. Makes getting a dvd for Christmas seem like a real cheap gift, don't it?

At any rate: Merry Christmas to all.


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