Monday, 10 December 2007

Christmas Meme

Mac has tagged me with a meme; one I haven’t much enjoyed doing really, but I like Mac and want to make her happy for Christmas.

I think that priests probably have a different take on Christmas than human beings do; perhaps its partly to do with being blokes, and partly with not having children. But also there is the fact that a priest gets to Christmas utterly exhausted—we all get sick of people saying, right up to Christmas Eve ‘Just coming up to your busy time, Father’. In fact, the period of Christmas itself is bliss; very little indeed happens. It all happens in the weeks leading up.
I am very repelled also, by the commercialization of Christmas—a friend of mine calls it the Saturnalia, because to most people the fuss has very little to do with the birth of our Lord.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Both mean misery.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Real is so much nicer, but the needles and the disposal afterwards are not.

3. When do you put up the tree? Christmas Eve, ideally while listening to 9 Lessons and Carols.

4. When do you take the tree down? The day after the (real) Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog? Isn’t that some sort of American vice? I shouldn’t think I’d like it, though I like lots of other American things.

6. Favourite gift received as a child? It may be a false memory thing, but I can’t remember getting much other than clothes. I do remember a paint box and pad of paper, which I was scolded for using up within a couple of days. In my early twenties, I got an Amstrad Computer, which revolutionized my life. I think that has the award of the best Christmas present ever.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Oh yes; it’s much more important than a tree.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My mother. I’m now used to the fact that she will say that she loves whatever I get her, and then take it back to the shop at the first opportunity. The plus side of this is that it doesn’t matter very much what I get her, I suppose.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? It’s a bit mean to think about actually disliking a gift.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards are just misery. Worry about finding time to write them, worry about not having time to write them, guilt about therefore not sending many or any.

11. Favourite Christmas Movie? Anything that doesn’t have Robin Williams in it.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Too late.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? If you mean have I given it as a new gift to someone else, then no.

14. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Good sausage rolls. Good Christ Stollen.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear and non-winking.

16. Favourite Christmas song? No contest; Adeste Fideles, in Latin.

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Since my father died, my mother comes to me for Christmas.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? No, and if I could, I wouldn’t.

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel.

—Phew; is this thing never going to end?—

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Late Christmas afternoon, after the Queen’s speech.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Exhaustion; Many fewer Confessions than Communions; Secular Christmas beginning somwhere in October and ending Christmas Day; St Stephen’s Day being called ‘Boxing Day’ (why?); Santa Claus and his bloody reindeer; BBC or Channel 4 taking the opportunity to futher debunk our faith.

22. Best thing about this time of year? That people make an effort to be kind. The three Masses. When I was a University Chaplain, I once was entirely alone for Christmas, and celebrated all three Masses, at their proper times, on my own, in what is now the Extraordinary form; I sang everything from the Liber, and even used incense. Maybe you think that is rather sad, but in fact it was somehow very special.


gemoftheocean said...

Truth be told, since both parents have died, I've done a fair number of Christmases on my own. I think because my mom (and dad) "raised me right" with the right frame towards Christmas, it's really not so bad, and can be *very* peaceful. I do some of the kitschy stuff, like my holiday movies and things...and foods and things, but sometimes it's just good to be grateful for the blessings you've been given. Some years back I came across a VCR of Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge, that I wouldn't dream of watching every year. And because I don't have kids, I can spoil other people's kids, or be generous in donating to gifts for children in temporary state foster care.

Mac McLernon said...

Bless you, Father, for enduring the meme misery... you made me very happy that you wanted to make me happy (but I'm sorry I made you miserable in return!)

Never mind, you can get your own back by setting me a meme in the New Year.

gemoftheocean said...

"busy season" I'm sure is a peeve, but what about "What time is Midnight Mass?" I think you get a plenary indulgence for answering that one nicely.

Augustinus said...

Gem mentioned the "what time is Midnight Mass" question.

Farcical though it is that anyone would suggest 'Midnight' could be at any other time, check out the times of Christmas Masses on the Hexham and Newcastle Diocesan website. There you will find the very question asked on a number of the parish listings - and the time is not always midnight. For example:

Disappointingly, a great number of the parishes listed won't be having Midnight Mass at all.

Berolinensis said...

Father, regarding the three Masses: I found it intersting that Pius XII used to say them all in a row starting at midnigh. He did so when he was nuncio in Munich and then Berlin and still did so as Pope. I think "back in the day" that was rather common. I only recently read "The Lord of the World" by R. H. Benson, and there it is also described.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you on lots!

Paulinus said...

re the three masses alone. Not sad at all. Far from it: central to the notion of being a priest - offering the sacrifice for us all. I find it rather touching that you wanted to do it properly.

Nick Jones said...

Yes, I respect a priest who wants to celebrate the liturgy properly, even, especially, when he is alone.

Fr. N of the USA said...

Eggnog may have English roots, as I have discovered, possibly related to milky drinks from East Anglia. However, I believe the addition of rum is the "American vice" part of it, as distinct from the English vice of adding ale to the milk and eggs. Either way, it's just medicine anyway. Merry Christmas and God's blessings upon you and your people.