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Christmas Eve

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

As we gather this evening to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity, I am aware of the fact that our celebration has changed in the course of my sixty-four years. Ever since the Vatican Council permitted Catholics to celebrate Sunday Eucharist on a Saturday evening, communal worship has changed. This is especially true of December 24. More Catholic will worship today than will worship tomorrow.

One of the memories that I carry from my childhood is that of Christmas morning. When we children would come down from the bedrooms in the morning, we would find my mother's dressing screen standing in front of the Christmas tree making it impossible to really see what Santa had brought. We would be herded into the kitchen for breakfast since we were not old enough to receive communion. A quick breakfast for the children was followed by winter coats and a ride to church. Christmas Mass came first in our household. Then we would go home to find that an aunt and uncle had been at work while we were gone. They would have lit the tree, taken away the screen and prepared the room for the mayhem that would ensue when four children under the age of six would return from Church.

My Christmases changed in 1957. My stepfather woke us up at 4:00 AM on the morning of December 24 and told us that Santa had made a mistake and had come a day early. As the oldest at the age of ten, I had learned a thing or two about Santa. However, my younger brothers and sisters had not caught up to me. So I was confused. We went down stairs to find my mother waiting near the Christmas tree. The blinds were pulled so that the rest of the neighborhood would not learn of Santa's mistake. Later in the morning, even Grandma and Grandpa showed up. Now I was confused. They usually came on Christmas, not the day before. The day proceeded with one difference. We could not go outdoors???

Around 4:00 PM, the mystery was cleared up when my mother said to my stepfather, we had better get going. Grandma and grandpa were drafted into staying with the kids while my mother and stepfather took off for the hospital. At 8:00 PM, my brother Tom was born. My mother hadn't wanted to miss Christmas so she had arranged for him to come early. Christmas of 1957 changed our celebration of the Feast for many ensuing years.

Tonight we celebrate the birth of a child who comes for all of us. A blessed Christmas.

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