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my favorite christmas tradition

December 29, 2008

Twas the night before Christmas…

The Schwartz, Oleck and Street families gathered as we had for twenty-some-odd years.  Our celebratory supper was completed.  The meal had been accompanied by the same five stories told year after year, a few new stories and plenty of laughter, and then it was time for our favorite, most important of traditions: the Christmas Eve Rosary.  Our families solemnly knelt in front of the manger scene and a beautiful picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe to meditate on the Joyful mysteries.

The fourth week of Advent was a bit rushed as all those last-minute preparations pulled me in multiple directions.  My mind raced until we began the Rosary and contemplating the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.  In the calm of our prayer, I found repose.  Praying the Rosary on Christmas Eve prepared us for the coming celebration of Midnight Mass or Christmas Morning Mass.  I was able to let go of distractions and enter into the mystery of God-made-man.

After the Rosary, we lined up to kiss the Baby Jesus, our other favorite tradition.  When we kiss Baby Jesus, we get to take a piece of candy.  Even after the last person had gone, there was still a line as people went for second and third pieces of candy.  We may joke about it but we all know that venerating and kissing the little statue, which is a Rodriguez family heirloom (my mom’s side) and over 100 years old, is a symbol for what was to come at Christmas Mass, when we kissed the living Christ in the Eucharist.

The candy was also a precursor to dessert where we gathered around the table again for the same five stories and more laughter, before going home to ready ourselves for Mass.

Christmas Eve is my favorite of all our Christmas celebrations, aside from Mass.  It is a beautiful way to transition between Advent and Christmas.

And now the Christmas season (the real Christmas season) is in full swing.  The celebrations continue…

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