The last time that we went to Zoolights was when our eldest son was still a baby. I hope that we can return next year. It is so peaceful to walk through the zoo at night, looking the Christmas lights, and listening to the instrumental Christmas music.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
We were blessed to have my brother-in-law, Steve, spend a few days before and after Christmas with us. On the evening of the 22nd, he helped us decorate our Christmas tree.
On the 23rd, he left our house to go and spend Christmas with my father-in-law, who was celebrating his first Christmas in 49 years without my mother-in-law.
Steve and my father-in-law visited on the 26th, the Feast of St. Stephen, giving the children some Christmas presents and eating leftovers with us. After the children's grandfather left, we watched Chestnut (a cute movie from Grandpa) and ate popcorn. Before bed, my husband read all of us Good King Wenceslas.
Please keep Steve in your prayers, as he has had a very difficult year.
The books that I read in 2009 were:
- Managers of their homes: A practical guide to daily scheduling for Christian home-school families by Teri and Steven Maxwell
- Married Saints and Blesseds: Through the Centuries by Ferdinand Holbock
- Saints Of The American Wilderness: The Brave Lives And Holy Deaths Of The Eight North American Martyrs by John A. O'Brien
O'Brien's recounting of the missionary lives of the North American Martyrs caused me to ponder what the Catholic Faith means to me. It is well worth reading.
- The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed Her Husband from Atheist to Priest by Elisabeth Leseur
- Way to Happiness: An Inspiring Guide to Peace, Hope and Contentment by Fulton J. Sheen
- The World's First Love: Mary Mother of God by Fulton J. Sheen
This is one of my favorite books.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
As mentioned previously, on December 23, Marcie and Laura gave my children a gingerbread house kit. The children spent many enjoyable hours on December 24 making and decorating it. I thought that they did a wonderful job, working together and succeeded in building a beautiful gingerbread house.
We usually give our children a main gift, an item of needed clothing (underwear, socks, etc.), a book, and a few inexpensive stocking stuffers for Christmas; however, this year was very different. On December 23, two very caring women (Marcie and Laura), with whom my husband used to work, arrived at our door with a bunch of presents for the children and a gingerbread house kit. Finnian was sleeping at the time, so we hid all of the presents.
On Christmas Eve, my two eldest daughters and I placed the gifts from Marcie and Laura under our tree before heading to Midnight Mass. When we returned home, the little ones, especially Finnian and Elizabeth, were surprised to see gifts from Marcie and Laura, and St. Nicholas under the tree. They opened two presents and then went to bed. In the morning, the children opened the remainder of their presents and I was amazed to see the thoughtfulness of the gifts that these two ladies gave to my children.
Friday, December 25, 2009
As a child, I fell in love with Midnight Mass. I fell in love with celebrating the miracle of Christ's Nativity in the best way possible. Last night, I fell in love all over again.
We arrived at our parish around 10:45. Prior to Mass, I said my usual prayers, but I added, "Dear God, please let me remain in the church. Mary, please comfort my little children and help them to sleep." Shortly before the Lessons and Carols began, Patrick lay down on one side and Finnian lay down on the other side of me. Elizabeth fussed as the First Lesson began and I repeated my prayer. She started to nurse and soon fell asleep. I sat silently listening to the Lessons and Carols, thankful for the silence around me. After the last lesson, the Infant Jesus was placed in the manger and the faithful joined the choir in singing my favorite hymn, Silent Night. As we sang, tears started to stream down my cheeks. My eldest son asked, "Why are you crying?" I could not respond. I saw Bernadette wiping her eyes and I realized that she understood.
The Lessons and Carols were followed by a Mass in which I could fully assist. Theresa eventually crawled under the pew, put her head on a coat, and fell asleep. I continued to follow along, respond, and listen. The homily was awe-inspiring, focusing everyone's attention on the Christ Child. Elizabeth continued to sleep as I received Communion. I returned to the pew and knelt in silence, thanking God for the blessings that he has bestowed on us. After Mass, I knelt again and said a few prayers before putting coats on the children. We made a little stop to see the Baby Jesus in the manger and then we headed to the van. As we drove home, a little after 2:00 a.m., I couldn't help but think that the Traditional Latin Rite Midnight Mass is truly one of the most beautiful things this side of Heaven.
Thank you, God, for blessing my family and me with the best possible Christmas gift, celebrating the birth of Your Divine Son at Midnight Mass.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
The Ballad of Befana
by Phyllis McGinley
Befana the Housewife, scrubbing her pane,
Saw three old sages ride down the lane,
Saw three gray travelers pass her door--
Gaspar, Balthazar, Melchior.
"Where journey you, sirs?" she asked of them.
Balthazar answered, "To Bethlehem,
For we have news of a marvelous thing.
Born in a stable is Christ the King."
"Give Him my welcome!"
Then Gaspar smiled,
"Come with us, mistress, to greet the Child."
"Oh, happily, happily would I fare,
Were my dusting through and I'd polished the stair."
Old Melchior leaned on his saddle horn.
"Then send but a gift to the small Newborn."
"Oh, gladly, gladly I'd send Him one,
Were the hearthstone swept and my weaving done.
"As soon as ever I've baked my bread,
I'll fetch Him a pillow for His head,
And a coverlet too, "Befana said.
"When the rooms are aired and the linen dry,
I'll look at the Babe."
But the Three rode by.
She worked for a day and a night and a day,
Then, gifts in her hands, took up her way.
But she never could find where the Christ Child lay.
And still she wanders at Christmastide,
Houseless, whose house was all her pride,
Whose heart was tardy, whose gifts were late;
Wanders, and knocks at every gate,
Crying, "Good people, the bells begin?
Put off your toiling and let love in."
Friday, December 18, 2009
For the past couple of years, my two eldest have wanted to be confirmed. After hearing our pastor say that our parish's first Confirmation would take place on December 17, Bernadette told my father-in-law that she would be confirmed in December. I told her that she would need to wait a couple more years. She was upset and shared, among other things, that she needed to be confirmed, so that she could be a soldier of Christ and defend the Faith. I signed her and her sister up for our parish's Confirmation class.
Each Friday, since September, Catherine and Bernadette have been going to a Confirmation class taught by our pastor and completing Baltimore Catechism lessons at home. On December 11, our pastor gave them an oral exam. On Wednesday, December 16, they spent the evening at our parish, eating dinner, attending their first evening of recollection, assisting at Mass and Benediction, and participating in the rehearsal. They arrived home very excited about their Confirmation.
Grandpa and his Granddaughters
Last night, my father-in-law drove 3 hours to meet us at our house and go to his granddaughters' Confirmation. Bernadette's godparents were both present (her godmother made an incredible effort to come), and so were Finnian's and Elizabeth's godparents. It was the first Tridentine Rite Confirmation in the Archdiocese of Seattle in over 40 years.
Bernadette with her Godparents
Bernadette with her Godfather and his Wife
(The first time that I met Sarah, I told my husband,
"Sarah and Jeff would make a great couple."
The rest is history.)
2009 North American Martyrs Confirmandi
Thursday, December 17, 2009
A very good friend from college, Avi, just sent the prayer request below:
Please keep Avi's dad and her whole family in your prayers.I haven't had a chance to let you know yet, but my dad was diagnosed last Thursday with liver cancer up at OHSU and was waiting for more information. He was back in Bend when his tumor on his liver ruptured, causing severe pain and internal bleeding. St. Charles hospital airlifted him up to OHSU, where he is doing fine now. He is going to have (non-emergency) surgery today! Please keep him in your prayers.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
As I shared last year, each of our children receives a Christmas book from us on December 25. This year's books, in no particular order, are:
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Arthur Rackham
This was my book when I was a child. I always liked the pictures in this edition of this classic poem and I hope that my child who receives this will do the same.
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco's story about her uncle and his family brings tears to my eyes each time that I read it. We have checked this book out from the library numerous times; it is about time that it made its way onto our shelves.