December 25, 2007

Christmas Customs

On one of my favorite blogs, Father Zuhlsdorf, requests that his readership post, in the comments, what their Christmas customs are.

There are some really interesting and beautiful customs there.

However, the request made by Father, in all kindness, upset and saddened me. I spent a very restless evening trying to sleep and let it go.

It occurred to me that my family has no, regular, Christmas customs. We tried. My Mom, in particular, tried. Unfortunately, as the revolving cast of our family changed as people passed away, moved away, seperated themselves from the family for one reason or another, it was difficult to implement Christmas customs.

I know I'm feeling sorry for myself and I honestly admit that I'm envious of people who have a stable enough family environment that they CAN have Christmas customs.

I'm ashamed to admit that my Christmas custom, for many years, consisted of ignoring the Lord.

How many Christmasses did I stay in bed rather than go to Mass? How many Christmasses did I go to a movie instead of Mass? How many Christmasses did I waste in sin? How many Christmasses where if it were not for the sudden appearance of It's a Wonderful Life on TV would I have even known it was Christmas? How many Christmasses did I feel like it was more Calvary than Bethlehem?

I spent a lot of Christmasses crying my eyes out, barely able to stand. I wonder now if my trials, then, would have been easier if I had consciously united my sufferings with His? If I reflected upon the adversity of the Holy Family this time of year would the agonies of my family life been easier to bear?

Some days, I want to go back. I want to go back to it all and relive it again as I am now. I want to live thru it in prayer. I want to carry the Cross with Christ-strong. Not whimpering and wailing: "Oh, poor me"

I consider, now, that even though I had abandoned Christ, He had not abandoned me. He and my Angel were closer to me then I realized. That knowledge is devastating to me. That is what makes me sad. That is why I was unsettled all night. I know, now, what I did. It's like a friend standing near waiting patiently to speak with you and you ignore them in your heedless need to talk to someone else. Then, you are devastated when you realize later that you ignored your friend in your pathetic desire to please someone else. Someone else who did not matter to you as much as your friend. If only you could go back and erase that moment when you hurt your friend.

We can't. I can't. I can't go back. But, I can go forward. It took the infancy of my life in Christ to realize the enormity of my errors. I am, in many ways, a child. I'm 39 years old but I feel like I was just born. I was so ignorant and so blind for so long.

This Christmas I'm starting a new custom. I resolve going forward thru all the Christmasses that may remain to me on this earth to continue to grow and to live and to learn the Christian life. Being with The Christ is the only Christmas custom that really and truly matters.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can come spend Christmas with my family any time you want. Our customs can be yours. Not the same, no, but the invite is there.


December 25, 2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

God Bless You, Cathy.

I was away from the Church for many years and ultimately the Lord dragged me back too. That is far more important than customs.

December 25, 2007 2:54 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thank you, my friends. One of the great blessings of this blog is all the great brothers and sisters in Christ that I have met thru it.

December 25, 2007 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, heartfelt post Cathy! Thanks for sharing this with us. God bless you in the coming New Year!


December 26, 2007 8:28 AM  
Blogger Rita said...

You're not alone, Cathy. I've had a similar faith journey to yourself, only I don't write so well!

God Bless!

December 26, 2007 10:25 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Just happened on this quote moments before reading your post. Makes one wonder.

Don't permit your misery or defeats to depress you. Rather let them be steps by which you descend the deep mine where we find the precious gem of holy humility.

-- St. Paola Frassinetti

December 26, 2007 9:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

adrienne: Thanks!

December 27, 2007 6:24 AM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

"I want to go back and relive it again as I am now. ... I want to carry the Cross with Christ-strong."

Cathy, I think that's called repentance. What we are called to. I can empathize. how many Christmas times did I spend "celebrating" solstice, with all the panoply of neo-pagan foolishness? Too many--but this year You and I celebrated the Incarnation--the Nativity of the Lord according to the Flesh, as the Christmass proclamation puts it.

Your new Christmass tradition, well, it's the only real one.

God has blessed you, with the great gift of repentance. Remember--if we hate our lives, we will save them, and if we love them, we will lose them.

December 27, 2007 10:14 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

IR: You need to change your handle to Wise Redneck or Beautiful Redneck!


December 27, 2007 9:32 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

but I can't spell wize or beyutiful!

December 28, 2007 4:34 PM  
Blogger uncle jim said...

...the old testament talks about the wise old men setting at the gates of the city - heck, you could pass for one of them and you're only 39 ... git your donkey and head for the gates and dispense your wise nuggets to the passers by.

December 28, 2007 7:29 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Uncle Jim: So, first you tell me I look like an old man (albeit wise) and now you tell me to pick up my a-- and throw, er, nuggets (yeah, sure, you meant gold) at the people as they pass by?

Yes, it's been a long week. LOL!

December 28, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Ah, yes, we have many Christmas customs in the Ward house.

Arguing about something inane like whether it's a good idea to colonize Mars or whether Gumbo should have tomatoes or not until someone cries, children going in and out of the front door every 5 seconds, each time making a progressively louder "SLAM!", drunken singing of bizarre songs from our childhood, half of us bitching about liturgical abuses, the other half calling us "whiners who need to get with the times", etc.

You are welcome to join us anytime, Cath.

December 29, 2007 9:57 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ma: LOL! Thanks for reminding me that family drama can be a Christmas custom too. We've got that here as well.

December 29, 2007 12:12 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Beautiful resolution. May we all live it. Merry Christmas.

December 29, 2007 10:08 PM  

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