Saturday, December 24, 2016
Bob's Christmas pudding has started to jiggle and while that bubbles to new heights of deliciousness, I've got my feet up and have been watching the antics of a robin who has come home too soon. I enjoy the morning quiet and this time alone. I've been thinking about Christmas celebrations, old and new, and a couple of memories surfaced and left me with a smile. You might enjoy them, too.
When our children were young, we attended what many consider a mission parish. It was a faith community established to serve newly landed immigrants from Haiti and Korea. Tucked among them were some establishment families seeking cultural diversity for their children. The congregation was small, so those of us who could were asked to teach and serve the community in ways we never imagined. That's how I came to write a the greatest Christmas pageant ever. I tend towards the dramatic and in "my" pageant there was a moment when the church went dark and the tape recorded cry of a newborn could be heard. As the baby began to cry, borrowed flood lights, focused only on the manger, came on and washed it a sea of light as a deep, sonorous voice boomed, "This is my beloved son." It was a lovely moment, but right after those words were spoken our tiny Mary stood up, grabbed her crotch and ran down the aisle squealing, "I gotta pee". With that, the pageant joined the ranks of memories my children have never let me forget.
Going hand in hand with the search for cultural diversity, was a determination to make Christmas a less secular affair. The recollection of the pageant brought memories of our Baby Jesus Cake into play. Starting at a young age, the children had a party for the baby Jesus, complete with a cake on Christmas Eve. Heavily based on the Three Kings Cake served in other countries, our cake held a hidden clove that was meant to represent the gifts of the Magi. Here's the part were religion gets a little tangled with magical thinking and for that I ask your forbearance. Our cake contained a magical clove that would bring good luck to the person who found it. We still honor that tradition. Some years I'd make a pound cake, others it might be angel food. To my great shame, there were years when time, which has always been my enemy, trumped intent and the birthday cake came from a mix into which a clove was stuck. This year, I have two cupcakes, one for Bob and one for me. Only one of them contains the clove. It's grossly unfair, but unless he picks his quickly, I can anticipate a year of good fortune because I know which one holds the clove. I've been blessed to see the tradition of the cake continued in the Christmas celebrations of my adult children. My grandsons now search for that illusive clove on Christmas Eve. Memory is a lovely place to visit. I hope you and those you love have a wonderful holiday, one that's complete with recollections of your Christmases past. Merry Christmas to you all. "God bless us everyone."