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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ask the Matriarch - Christmas Eve 2009

Good morning!

For many of us, this will be a very long day, one of the busiest of the year. For that reason, we are taking a break from the Q and A format in favor of stories - your favorite Christmas Eve stories.

One of my favorite stories is one that actually repeats itself every year...
In the second year of my term here as associate, the senior pastor had taken another call earlier in the fall. I was promised an interim senior pastor to help lead this 500+ household parish, but that person would not be available to begin until January. So...looming before me was a grueling Christmas Eve schedule of services at 5, 7, 9, and11. With ginger ale, a ham sandwich and some Christmas cookies in my bag, I set out to tackle the evening's responsibilities.

It was a very good evening of worship, and although I was exhausted, I was also wound up. I needed to talk through the night with my love, but he can barely manage to stay awake until the evening news. So with the clock about to strike 1 AM, I fully expected to come home to a quiet house with everyone tucked in their beds and fast asleep. As I pulled into the garage, I could see that there were still a few lights on, to provide my tired feet a safe passage. When I opened the door, I was amazed to find music playing, a glass of wine waiting, and my husband sitting there, mostly awake, ready to debrief me.

I was so grateful! But then I noticed that the kitchen table and chairs had been removed to the edge of the den. When I asked my husband about it, he smiled and said, "Honey, the only way that I could think to keep awake for you was to strip and wax the kitchen floor. So, I did..."

And now, no matter what service he attends, he always comes home to strip and wax the floor, and make up an egg casserole for our Christmas Day breakfast.

I am sure you have a story of grace, or humor, or thoughtfulness to share. Use the comment function to include it here, or to link us back to your place.

And have a very blessed Christmas everyone+



  1. What a precious story!
    The year my husband and I married, my ex decided we could no longer do Christmas together with the kids, after many years post-divorce of all being together at my house on Christmas morning. The first year of the new arrangement was "my" year, but the next year I had to drop them at his house after Christmas Eve services. This might not seem so bad, since they were by that time 17, 13 and 8, but it was the first Christmas Eve I would spend without them, and I was sad.
    As I drove down my street, I noticed to my surprise that all the Christmas lights, tree and window, were on in an otherwise dark house. And when I came through the door, Don (who is not a drinker himself) was waiting with champagne for the sad mama.
    A blessed Christmas to all dear RevGalBlogPals!

  2. Many Many years ago (35?) Christmas Day was a Sunday. Or maybe Boxing Day was the Sunday??

    ANyway, one of the things I had gotten for Christmas was a setof pencil crayons. During Children's Time the minister asked us what our favourite Christmas present was. And I Announced (very loudly as my parents tell the story) that I got pencil crayons. Was that a good present? came the follow up. YEs! Wax crayons are nothing, pencil crayons are the best! (again very loud as I am told) was my response. Apparently Len wasn't sure what to say next....

    FOr some reason that is one of the stories my parents love to tell about me.

  3. Oh, I love these stories! revhoney and SB, you have both made me a bit weepy! What sweet husbands you have!

    One of my favorite Christmases was the year I was pregnant. That year ended up being sort of like the calm between storms. Prior to that year, Paul and I would always rush around after the Christmas Eve services to leave early Christmas morning to go visit family in Georgia and Alabama. And now that we have kids, we still make the trip (leaving the day after Christmas usually) but now we also have family coming to visit us in the days leading up to Christmas, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - which makes life extremely stressful and chaotic.

    But the year I was pregnant, we did not host, and we also decided to give ourselves an extra day before traveling, so that we were leaving on the 26th. So Christmas morning, after an exhausting Advent and a late evening Christmas Eve service, we slept in, woke up leisurely, exchanged presents with only each other, and then went to see Lord of the Rings at the movie theater! (we had hot dogs there for our dinner - so I didn't even have to cook!)

    It doesn't sound like much, but now that I have so many more family responsibilities at the holidays, I look back at that time as the purest form of pleasure and relaxation. Such a quiet, restful, happy day.

  4. What lovely stories. I would advise marrying those 2 men (Honey's and Songbird's) tout suite! (Wait, you already did! Good on you.)

    Pencil crayons DO rock; and EC, nothing sweeter than a lazy and private holiday.

    God bless us, every one.

  5. Some of my Christmas stories are just vignettes - Heather peering up the chimney to figure out how Santa had gotten the sled down, giggling with my sisters in church as adults, the year daddy fell asleep during the sermon, my ex-husband's annual rant about how awful I was to make the kids wait until after church Christmas Day to open presents (they never seemed to mind).
    But there is one Christmas that really stands out, actually two. When I was 15, my youngest sister was 8. Every present she got from Santa, she would comment on whose handwriting was on the tag, where thje box came from and, in one instance, what the present cost. Barbara was sure there was no Santa. We spent the entire year trying to talk her out of that.
    So the next year, she set out a sandwich, celery and carrot sticks and milk for Santa and wrote him a note. She asked him to write back and she told us all that we couldn't sufficiently disguise our handwriting to fool her.
    My older sister and I went off to sing the midnight service after we had all spent some time trying to figure out what to do about that blasted note. As we processed out to Hark the Herald Angels Sing, I saw a good family friend in the last pew. Obie hadn't attended church since he left the Farm School in Paoli for college. But that night, he was moved - his wored - to come. We took him home with us and he wrote Santa's note for Barbara.
    Needless to say, she was stunned! And I didn't tell her who wrote it until about ten years ago
    That is the story of our family's Christmas miracle.

  6. this could be the year i spent home during the blizzard... it is coming. already country church is off. our midnight mass will be called off as well... which leaves an afternoon service as a maybe... depending on snowfall.

    guess i'll wait by the phone for now... drink more coffee... bundle up and head out to walk mochajava before the weather turns again...

  7. I remember Christmas Eve Midnight Mass when I was pregnant with my first. We were in a very fancy and well-appointed college chapel in the Windy City -- with an excellent pipe organ -- and when the organist called on the sixteen-foot pipe to do its thing, the Hope-of-the-Future leapt very mightily (for the first time). And how much more Gospel-of-Luke can it get?!!

  8. I totally get the low-key Christmas, earthchick. This is our first Christmas since we got married (and therefore also since we had kids) that we have ever been in our own home for Christmas. In my first church we the senior pastor and I actually alternated who did Christmas Eve each year which ROCKED, but it meant on my "off" years we flew it my family in FL and on my "on" years we drove that night or early Christmas morning 3 hours to my husband's family. We were always away. Last year we flew out to FL on Christmas morning and after a hellish night in a hotel and a 6:00 a.m. flight that came WAY too early in the morning. We declared never again. We're staying home, just the 4 of us and I'm THRILLED.

    I posted this yesterday, but it was suggested I re-post the link. Here's the OTHER story from last year's Christmas Eve worship before the hellish night began.

    Praying tonight goes a little smoother.

  9. Old Christmas memories are flowing and I love hearing all of your stories!
    This is my first call and thus, our first Christmas when "Mommy" is Pastor, too. We've tried to maintain the holiday traditions up to today. Trips to see Santa, Nutcracker Ballet, making photo frame ornaments, decorating, Christmas movies, holiday lights, and even made all the nights of Hanukkah this year! (Hubby is Jewish and we love the Hanukkah story!)
    Anyway, our new tradition for Christmas Eve is to make the communion bread for tonight's services as well as Sunday's service (I'll be on vacation and so will consecrate the elements tonight). So we just made the yummy honey/dark rye round loaves and realized that some of the green sprinkles from cookies had made their way into the dough. What a nice extra treat for the folks tonight and Sunday!! Hope they don't think it's mold.....

  10. My Birthday is 25th December which has always been a mixed blessing! Each year we discuss when I will celebrate the birthday bit of it all, will it be after Midnight Communion - but I have to be up for an early service. Will it be after we get home from church? but we still usually have the tree presents still to open... we've never really worked it out but I am always spoilt by Sandy and the kids. I tend to be too exhausted to care! But this year early Boxing Day (26th) morning we are all off to Paris for three days to celebrate - so no complaints from me!! I hope you all have a fantastic and peaceful Christmas and glimpse God's glory behind the tinsel and wrapping paper.

  11. Many Christmases we traveled to one family or the other, but my parents encouraged us to celebrate at our own home and not pack up all of our presents to open elsewhere. That was wonderful advice! So sometimes we opened them on Christmas Eve after church, and sometimes it was Christmas morning.

    One special Christmas, my parents came to stay with us for Christmas. The girls were about 6 and 2 years old so it was quite a magical holiday. However the day they arrived, (Christmas Eve) we started coming down with the Christmas pukes, one after the other. I had to call and cancel my worship leading as I was either dizzy on my bed or running for the toilet. You're thinking, "gee, what a cheerful memory!"

    Well, actually, it was a wonderful thing because my parents NEVER came down with the bug, and Grandma was there to run the kitchen and do laundry.

    One phrase though, we really still find hysterical. I was lying on the couch holding a sick girl, who tossed her cookies all over me. I looked at my mom and said with exasperation, "NOW what?" With her usual calmness she said, "Oh, just wait till you stop dripping and then go clean yourselves up." The phrase "just wait til you stop dripping" has become a giggle moment for us. Still.

    May NONE of us have the Christmas pukes! <3


  12. Crimson Rambler...that story gave me goosebumps!!

    I love reading all the memories. I recall going to Midnight Mass with my (big - we're Catholic, right?) family the first year that the kids stayed up to help my parents with the tree. A fire, lots of cookies, and did I mention there might have been a lot of eggnog? We felt very grown up!

    Turns out that incense, my younger brother and eggnog do not mix. At all. He tossed his cookies as the procession headed out of Church, to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus...

    Alleluia, upchuck, Alleluia, upchuck...

  13. Merry Cristmas RevGals. About to leave for Christmas morning service. Last night carols went well, but here (AUS) this morning is usally our biggest service of the year. [then I have 2 Sundays off]

  14. Wonderful, moving stories!

    Like Margaret I recall more vignettes than stories: attending midnight mass with my best friend and her family, and her older sister leaning over to whisper "Merry Christmas," when the clock inched past midnight; and the year my parents gave me a puppy (I was 11). Lately I have been reminiscing about family traditions. We didn't have a lot of money but my Mother always liked to do something for friends and those who had showed a kindness. She made homemade toffee and a mix of spiced tea and dressed them up with a copy of the recipe, a wooden spoon and a sprig of some greenery and red ribbon. As a family we would head out to do our visiting, which always began with us standing outside the front door of the visitee and breaking into song (one Christmas carol or another). Then the porch light would come on and the door would open and exclamations and enthusiastic invitations to come inside would emanate from within. Those were fun times, and there are lots of holiday traditions in which my family indulged. It has made me realize that I really did have a happy childhood.


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