Christmas 2001

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter J. Daly

Nov. 29, 2001


            Every year Christmas is pretty much the same.

            I think that is partly what I like about it, especially this year.  It is comforting and reassuring in its familiarity.

            Every year it sneaks up on me while I am still digesting Thanksgiving.  I swear to myself that I will get my cards and letters out early.  Every year they go out just in time for Epiphany.

            Every year I get a boatload of cookies, pies and fruitcakes, which I swear to myself, I won’t eat.  Every year I eat them (with a smile on my face).

            Every year our children go to the nursing home to sing Christmas carol and distribute flowers.  One of them goes careening through the hallways in a wheel chair, to the delight of the old people and the distress of the staff.

            Every year we have a parish “decorating day”, when we discover to our annual surprise that all the lights are tangled up or burnt out and all the red ribbons are crushed. 

            Every year I resolve that I won’t give in the “commercialism of the season.”  Then two weeks before I feel guilty about being the scrooge and I wind up patrolling the aisles of stores with names ending in “mart” or “depot” looking for gifts in bulk.

            Every year I forget to wrap my gifts, which never made much sense to me anyway since the recipient immediately destroys the wrapping. 

            Every year all those Christmas liturgies appear on the calendar.  I always forget to schedule something or someone.  Yet somehow, miraculously, we get through it and there always seem to be enough lectors, musicians, Eucharistic ministers, ushers and servers.

            Every year the masses are overflowing, the parking lot is crowded, and we see people we haven’t seen in months.  I always think to myself, “Why can’t it be like this every week?  Then I think again, “Thank God it’s not like this every week.”

            Every year I get on the telephone with old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in a while and many of whom are not too active in the church. They always ask me, “What are you doing for Christmas?”  Dah.  Hello!  I’m a priest.  Think about it.

            Every year I make the same resolutions that just after Christmas I will loose 20 pounds, read the Bible all the way, and take up a sport or musical instrument.  Every year I have those things to look forward to all over again.

            Every year one of the local funeral homes brings me a ham, which I pretend every year to be surprised about.  In fact there are some other gifts I get every year from the same people. One lady buys me black sweater every year.  Of course, I am glad to have them all.  And I am certainly no more imaginative in my gift giving. Every year I give the same old gift certificates to our parish staff, the ultimate cop-out gift.

            Every year somebody comes by the rectory on Christmas Eve wanting a hand out.  I expect them and know that it is the same scam every year.  Every year I give them something.  After all, it is Christmas.

            Every year I am overwhelmed and humbled by all the confessions I hear.  So many good souls.  So many people struggling so hard to love God and love their neighbor. 

They make me realize that Jesus really is Emmanuel, God with us.  They make me hope that there can always be a new birth of innocence, joy and peace.

            And every year my hope is renewed that this time His coming will bring us peace.