I have a love/hate relation with Christmas. Painful memories. Fond memories. I remember my father had to leave one year the day after Christmas to do a year-end audit in Birmingham, Alabama. I just wanted him to stay, probably not as much as he wanted to stay. Nowhere nearly as much as he did. Christmases with my children. And thanks to divorce, Christmas without them.
And then there is the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of the Incarnation. I have been to Midnight Masses, and Christmas Day Masses. The serenity I associate with the Mass is profound. The silences between the chanted portions of the Masses are equally as moving as the chants. And the Gloria is exquisite. If one is lucky enough to be at a Mass where The Credo is chanted (the Missa Angeles especially), it is especially moving. He became Man and dwelt among us. The Incarnation will always be a Mystery. There are things we will never figure out. Mysteries.
Other music is also singularly special. Händel’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Brittain’s Ceremony of Carols. Then there is the exquisite Marian Anthem, for the season, Alma Redemptoris Mater, the simple tone Gregorian Chant.
Most importantly Christmas is the orange in the toe of my hand-knitted Christmas stocking. Because St Nicholas remembers that for the longest time, an orange, a simple orange, for Heaven’s sake, was something special.
Love/Hate. Loss of family, Presence of Our Lord, the perfunctory acts of charity, birds taking Mylar “icicles” building their nests.
It’s a jumble. A delicious jumble.