We raised our children at St. Philip Church. It is “home base” for me. This year, though, I have not been there since the Famine Mass in February 2014. It was nice to be “home”. My family came with us all since it was the first time Aunt Ann has been with us for the holidays. Life changed for her on November 28th and new traditions will be starting. That is the cycle of life…..things happen, dynamics change, new traditions begin, but, for me, “home base” is always there. It centers me. At this mass, there is a living Nativity Scene and for the first time I can remember, I only knew the angel and one shepherd boy……strange! Santa arrived right after communion, paid homage to the baby “Jesus” and was blessed…all to “Oh Holy Night”. Beautiful touch!
I thought back to the year Stephanie was the angel many years ago. Vinnie’s Dad was there, Leslie and Lisa’s whole families were there. My parents were there and my son-in-law was not. Different from this year……Now my “angel” sat between her sister and her husband, Vinnie’s Dad was not there while his entire family went to St. Jerome’s. Lisa and Rich sat amongst the kids with Scott, and Kelsey and Sean are in Colorado while this year, Aunt Ann joined us. Yes, things have changed, but not necessarily in a bad way….just different.
As I looked around though, I felt blessed to be surrounded by so many families who had been joining my family all those years and yet, their families looked different as well. Their parents may have passed or gotten too old to join our parish celebration, their kids have moved away or just stopped coming, spouses had passed on or just stopped coming to church. Everyone’s family had changed and yet, we all returned to “home base” on Christmas Eve. I think if I am really honest part of me is relieved that things have changed, part of me is saddened by the changes that are yet to come, part of me is sad that they had to change, and part of me is excited about changes that are yet to come. Needless to say, Christmas Eve is like a Dicken’s novel….there are ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future all vying for attention in my head and in my heart as my family assumed it’s place in the front row three rows of St. Philip Church on Christmas Eve.
I do love it when all my kids are with me for mass. It brings me back to a happy and loved place in my heart!