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— Louie G 🇩🇪🇲🇽🇺🇲 (@LouGarza86) January 21, 2022
First published on Christmas Eve, 2010.
But as far as I’m concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman – sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby. And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing ham. When we came out of the church that night it was cold and clear, with crunchy snow underfoot and bright, bright stars overhead. And I thought about the Angel of the Lord – Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe, yelling at all of us everywhere: ‘Hey! Unto you a child is born!’
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” – Barbara Robinson
Here is how this book begins: “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse.” These truly nasty kids bully their way into the lead roles in a church Christmas pageant to get free hot chocolate and cookies, but by the end of the book, their unexpected Christmas spirit has us in tears.
What can I say? I’m such a sucker for a redemption story. Whether it’s Scrooge, the Herdmans, George Bailey, the Grinch, little Susan Walker – or me, I just can’t resist the story of someone who once was blind, but now they see.
This is what I wish for all of you this Christmas: To see, to fly above the despair. To understand why Christmas resonates throughout the world, even in places where they don’t especially care (or even believe) that Jesus was born in a stable.
Continue reading “Hey! Unto you a child is born!”
Written more than 20 years ago.
CHRISTMAS WAS COMING but I saw only darkness ahead: My husband and I were getting a divorce and we planned to tell the kids after the holidays. With that hanging over me, I wandered through Macy’s, trying in vain to focus on shopping.
But my nerves were too raw. When a tuxedoed pianist stationed by the jewelry counter started to play a gorgeous, jazzy version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” I began to cry. Because I knew I wouldn’t have a merry little Christmas and wasn’t sure I ever would again.
A few days later, I took my sons to see “An American Tail.” I figured talking mice were safe enough, but when Fievel the Mouse began singing “Somewhere Out There,” the tears returned. “It’s such a hokey song. Why are you crying?” I silently scolded myself. I had so little compassion for my own pain that swallowing was a difficult habit to break. I was breaking up my family; who was I to feel entitled to cry about anything?
I was crying because the song was about someone out there looking at the same bright star and waiting just for you. It was an enormous lie, I knew. I was walking away from the officially-sanctioned structure of family for no other reason than my own crushing loneliness. What made me think that the way to cure my unhappiness was to turn it up several notches and spread it to the people I loved? My punishment, I knew, was that no one would ever love me again. I cried quietly in the dark while the screen light flickered over the still-innocent faces of my boys.
Such a dark time of the soul, that particular season. But while driving home from work, shivering in my old Dodge Dart, I’d find myself lost in wonder at the Christmas displays. Instead of the garish excess I’d so readily ridiculed before, I saw a sign of better times to come. I could take it only on faith because by any logical measure, my world seemed hopeless. “Light in darkness,” I repeated to myself. “Light in darkness.”
I attended Midnight Mass back in the inner-city neighborhood where we lived in the early years of our marriage. St. Francis de Sales evolved from a turn-of-the century working-class Irish parish to its present-day mix of now-elderly Irish parishioners, Vietnamese immigrants, academics and students from the nearby University of Pennsylvania and a growing base of black Catholics.
At Christmas, many cultural Catholics like me were happy to throw the annual $20 bill in the collection basket — we’d turned our backs on the institutional church, but were still drawn to the majesty of this day. It’s hard, after all, for someone who entered so many “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster contests to imagine Christmas without church.
The carol service preceded the Mass. People filed into the enormous church, which was lit only by a few scattered wall sconces and the tiny yellow lights on the altar’s evergreen trees. The organist played quietly while we sang about a tiny baby who was called Light of the World. “Come, oh come, Emmanuel and rescue captive Israel.” We sang about shepherds and a dark, cold night when wise men followed a star.
Continue reading “The season of lights”
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My mom has stage 4 Colorectal cancer and has both internal and external tumors. She has had radiation and needs chemotherapy and would need to get it every two weeks or it could do more harm then good. We need some kind of permanent or semi-permanent housing to make sure she doesn’t miss an appointment.