Each holiday season, my husband and I pore over mass times at various parishes with the intensity of a CSI forensics team trying to find the magic time and location that will “work.” We have much to consider including time, location (we have always had parishes closer to us than ours), language and incense (on a crowded mass like Christmas, it pays not to have your asthmatic child suddenly become reactive).
This year, we looked in particular at the three parishes closest, ours, our “alternate” and third parish. The “alternate” had the bonus of a cry-room that the other two did not (in the case of a Shelby-related incident). My personal preference had always been a Christmas Eve mass. I’ll get into the reasons for that in a minute. The boys really wanted to go to our parish so that was my main focus.
Midnight mass, with my kiddos, would be our last choice under good circumstances (well, second to last after our previous–but no longer–last choice of Christmas Day mass). In the case of our parish, it would be impossible. The choir has a concert that begins at 11 pm, so we’d have to be there two hours before mass to get seats. Um, no thank you.
That left four masses, 2 at 4 pm (one in the sanctuary and one in the school gym) and 2 at 6 pm. The 4 pm was out although neither had incense because although they are not “children’s masses” that tends to be the crowd and it’s a miracle the fire marshal has never shown up. So we looked at 6 pm. I let out a big sigh when I realized that in the sanctuary there would be incense and in the gym…it was going to be in Spanish. I can do Spanish mass, my kids, would quickly lose interest.
That left us with just one option…Christmas Day.
As I said before, this has long been my last and least desirable option. There are a couple of reasons why that was. The first is that until this year, I never once had been to a Christmas Day mass. It just wasn’t part of how my family did things growing up. We went to evening mass or Midnight. And that leads to the second reason, the classic American habit of getting up and opening parents right away. I did it. My husband did it. And until this year, my kids did it.
So, Christmas Eve we watched Meet Me in St Louis and then I fell asleep with the boys watching A Christmas Story. And then on Christmas Day, Jeff woke up sick so Joseph and I headed to mass while he stayed home and cooked breakfast.
First off, mass was no more crowded than a Sunday mass. Second, the people who were there, really wanted to be there. Finally, our day was much more relaxed starting with mass. We came home to a huge brunch and then afterward opened presents. I could not believe how much better the whole day was.
William did bug Jeff a little about opening presents but kids CAN wait. And the lack of stress factor on Christmas Eve was wonderful. I find it unusual when I hear friends say, “Christmas morning is a time for family.” Well, yes, it is, but it is also a time for Jesus and the whole family going to mass together (which wasn’t exactly what happened with us) and being with our brothers and sisters in Christ, well, that is the PERFECT time for family, it doesn’t HAVE to begin with ripping open presents and stockings!
So, there you have it. I’m converted. Christmas Day mass for our family it is!