Merry Christmas. Merry, Merry Christmas!

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?  It came without ribbons.  It came without tags.  It came without packages, boxes or bags.  And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?  What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I love the wisdom of Dr, Seuss. Today (well yesterday by the time I post this) is a reminder that Christmas does “mean a little bit more” In the past weeks we may have all gotten our puzzlers sore as we moved from store to store, from the office Christmas party, to the social club’s Christmas party, to the Board Parties etc, to the many trips to see Santa, to the various movies and ads and all that goes with it. Our puzzlers are almost certain to be sore as we sort out the confusion when Christmas finally arrives. You see, we have for the past eight weeks now been sold a message that Christmas is about boxes and bags, about ribbons and tags, about consumption and about stuff. Yet December 25 comes and we are all like children again. No matter our age. Christmas comes, and even though year after year we feel the same stress and anxiety about getting ready we spend our Christmas in giddiness.  This is a great day as it causes all of us to stop and take pause to celebrate family and friends and the goodness of humanity. We come to know on the day itself that “Christmas does not come from a store.”  Christmas does indeed mean “a little bit more.”

I find this time hard to be so far away from my family. I managed it for quite a while. You get a little more accustomed to being separated from your family after some years pass. A few years ago we decided to get back to Newfoundland for a Christmas. That was followed by a second one. And then last year a trip not long after Christmas. That has made it hard to be away, all over again. I know that tomorrow (well today now really), Boxing Day all of my Family will be together and we will miss them sorely.  This year we will not get to Newfoundland over the blessed season. There is no explaining with simple words how much you miss being somewhere when you really want to be there.

Grinch came to realize that there was an intangible; there was an inexpressible and undefined gift in Christmas that surpassed the simplistic message of the commercial reality that so many of us focus on. That intangible is what makes it hard to be away from those you love. In reality it is as hard to be separated from family on November 25 as it is on December 25. In reality it is true that we miss our loved ones when we do not see them on an ongoing basis, no matter the time of year. But in function Christmas makes it just a little tougher to be apart from the family at this time of year. That is the intangible of this time of year.  It is not easily explained or defines.

 “Christmas – that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance – a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.” Those are the words of Augusta E. Rundel. I think of everything and everyone I have loved at this time of year and it in some way explains the “little bit more” of Christmas. It is true that it puts us into a spell. The fact that we take time to mark the life and light of Jesus the Child is not lost in all of this. The incarnation, the manifestation of God’s love in human form is a part of all of that nostalgic love. We come to know God first in those that we love and in those that love us. It is only natural then that we should feel that sense so sorrow if we are not together and that sense of great jubilation if we are together.

Tonight I am relived that so many people love us. The pain we feel at being separated in tempered by the knowledge that it is that same love that makes it painful. If we were not loved and could not love we would not feel this pain of separation. It is also tempered by the love we feel in a parish family that is remarkable. We have seen the love of the Christ Child expressed over and over in the good people of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake.

It has been a long coupled of days – and I have loved every minute. Yesterday I celebrated four Masses for 540 souls. Today another Mass and another 55 people. All those people seeking to put language to the intangible. We all love to know God, we all love to know that God is with us, we all wish we could puts words to all experiences – our shopping, our gift giving, our ribbons and bows, they are all attempts to express that which “means a little bit more!”

Catherinanne and I wish you a holy and Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year. Give someone you love a little extra attention today and be sure to tell them what they mean to you. They are a part of God’s incarnation – they are expressions of God with us Emmanuel

I’m Pooped ….I’m going to Bed now!