Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Joyous Christmastide to You!

Today's celebration in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer has quite an extensive name: The Nativity of Our Lord, Or The Birthday of Christ, Commonly Called Christmas Day. Whew! The Epistle reading is from the beginning of the book of Hebrews, and the Gospel reading is from the beginning of St. John's Gospel. And here is the Collect (collective prayer) for Christmas Day:

Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The note below this Collect states that this Collect is to be prayed daily throughout the Octave, but most Anglicans pray it daily throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas. Yes, the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is truly that: a celebration of the twelve days between the birth of Christ and Epiphany, the arrival of the Wise Men who followed the Star that led them to the Christ-child.

For the last few years, our family (the kids and I, at least) have been following the Catholic and Anglican practice of celebrating Christmas for twelve days. If one looks back into the Old Testament, many annual festivals went on for seven to ten days, if not longer. And how can one jam all the joy of Christmas into one single day? It is impossible, especially after all of the preparations that go into making Christmas Christmas.

Tonight we celebrated with Keith's side of the family. His older sister Karen, and his younger brother Kevin's family (wife and five children), along with his dad, all drove up the mountain to celebrate Christ's birth with us. Keith was in the kitchen ALL day (while I cleaned ALL day), making pumpkin pies for our Christmas dinner with my family, and a huge pot of jambalaya for the celebration tonight. He also dipped pretzels into melted dark chocolate which we'll give out as gifts tomorrow to family friends and also enjoyed tonight, and I helped in bagging his famous toffee into gifts for our extended family members.

After we enjoyed our dinner of jambalaya and sandwiches, along with veggies and dip, I read portions of some Psalms from our Advent devotional and also St. Luke 2:1-21. Usually Keith's dad, the patriarch of the family, reads to us, but his Parkinson's is getting more troublesome, and he asked me to read. Earlier in the day, I hid our little baby Jesus from our nativity scene on our mantel and the little kids (9 and under) got to go look for it. Em found it and won a special bag of toffee just for her. Em also insisted on lighting our Advent wreath tonight, including the Christ Candle, even though it was E's turn in our regular rotation. I had forgotten about making our traditional "birthday cake for Jesus" until late this afternoon, but we had cookies and toffee and treats galore, so I don't think a cake was entirely necessary.

The sad thing about tonight was that J was sick. My dad and brother (and his two kids) came by around ten this morning to pick up our four and take them up the mountain to play in the 8-12 inches of snow at my parents' cabin. J wasn't feeling too well before leaving, and after he threw up for the third time, Dad brought him back down the mountain and I put him to bed with some ginger ale to sip. We kept him isolated from Kevin and Re's kids, and during the Christmas Eve festivities, I took in my laptop and set him up with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; he also watched part of the first Pirates of the Caribbean.

We'll spend tomorrow morning with just our family and will head down to my parents' place at the beach for Christmas dinner with my mom and dad, my brother and his kids, my mom's cousin and his family, and my parents' good friends Dan and Francie and Willie (Pam) and Geoff. We hope that J will feel much better by then and will be able to go. If not, Keith will probably stay home with him.

I really missed going to church tonight. Because of Re's work schedule, the bulk of our guests (everyone but Karen) arrived around 5:20 tonight and the Christmas services at Alpine Anglican start at 6:00 as do other services (Lutheran) in our town. We started eating at ten minutes until six. And after they left, I just couldn't make myself head down to Alpine to Christ the King Episcopal, knowing how far from the Truth they are, and I was far too tired to drive all the way to Holy Trinity in Ocean Beach, a 100-mile round trip. I would LOVE to attend Alpine Anglican tomorrow for Christmas (Christ's Mass), but there's no way Keith or the kids would want to go. I'll have to see if Alpine Anglican will be having a St. Stephen's Day service (Dec. 26), and I'll at least attend that one.

A Joyous Christmastide to you all! Happy First Day of Christmas!

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