Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah,
When I was a kid , I always wished every year that Christmas could land on a Sunday. Growing up Catholic with the most Irish Catholic mother to ever walk on God's green Earth, missing Mass on Sunday was NOT an option. It always seemed to me that Catholicism had some very peculiar rules one had to follow if one did not want to end up having to spend eternity roasting marshmallows with Lucifer, and attending Mass on Sunday and on ALL Holy Days of Obligation was right at the top of my mother's list. It was one of the Big Ten, (that's Commandments for you heathens, not the College Football Conference), and fell under the category of "keeping Holy the Lord's Day".
Any year Christmas happened to fall on, say, a Monday, or a Thursday, it meant that our butts were being dragged to Mass at our Parish Church twice in one week. Imagine the torture of being forced to get "dressed up" twice in one week, then sitting "quietly" in uncomfortable pews while Father Carty preached on the wages of sin I had not yet had the pleasure of committing. But on the occasional year that Jesus' Birthday fell on a Sunday, it was like getting a two for one special, with Christmas Mass counting for both the Holy Day and the Weekly Obligation. I think I began to recognize Liturgical Loopholes early in life, and I confess,(pun fully intended), that through my younger years I used them as often as I could. Some day, I may have to answer for such transgressions , but we will just have to wait and see. For the most part, I think I've managed, in spite of myself, to become a relatively decent human being,
My parents did the best they could with what they had to work with, the "what they had to work with" meaning "me", I never made things too easy for them. Let's just say, without getting into a lot of detail, that I was not always the model "Altar Boy of Good Behavior" I gave my parents a run for their money, I questioned anything and everything, and I am sure it was not an easy for my mother to instill in me the true meaning of Christmas, but somehow my folks managed. The Christmas Carols helped as well, since I've always been a "lyrics " kind og guy, "Joy to the World", Away in a Manger", "Silent Night", "Oh Holy Night", all sum things up rather nicely.
And then there was the Nativity Scene, the plaster figurines my mother would carefully unwrap each year and set up front and center beneath the Christmas tree. With the Nativity Scene prominently set in the front, the presents from Santa set to the side, carefully placed so as not to disturb Jesus, Mary Joseph, the cows, the sheep, or the heralding Angel, my mother unknowingly established a visual display on the proper priorities of Christmas.
Unfortunately, the three Wise Men and their Camels occasionally fell victim to a landslide of packages but travel on the Holidays can always be a little dangerous.
I was a lot less Dogmatic with my kids when they were growing up, opting for a more secular approach in my efforts of teaching them right from wrong. There were no threats of eternal hell, fire, and brimstone, or pulpit rants, or any sideways glances of Sister Holy-Mary-Altar-Rail to stop them from misbehaving. Staying off of Santa's Naughty List accomplished the same resuls as not disappointing Jesus and threats of eternal damnation.
So Happy Birthday Jesus! Have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and to all a Very Happy New Year.