Saturday, December 30, 2017

12 Vignettes: A Very Bader Christmas

My internal heretical dialogue began about the second week of Advent, when I realized the Fourth Sunday of Advent coincided with Christmas Vigil.

For anyone else, this simply means Christmas falls on Monday.

For Catholics, it means a family with five kids, ages seven and younger -- whose greatest struggle each week is one hour of Mass on Sunday -- must now attend two Masses in one day, around the father's work schedule, around the family's travel schedule, around the non-Catholic extended families' gatherings.

I wondered if our Church of the living God, this pillar and buttress of truth -- completely justified in telling us how to behave -- might just be more scrupulous than God himself.

Anyway, we did it. I'll spare you the details, so you can spare us the commentary on how we could have done it better.

My non-Catholic family member who unexpectedly joined us at Christmas Mass was so distracted by the comic sans font on our crucifix that the phenomenal homily and gorgeous music and timeless moments of consecration were completely lost. It's not her fault. I hold the artist fully responsible, possibly culpable.
A fun part of our Dallas trip was Game Day with Wally's family. It didn't even cross my careless mother's mind to worry about the murder theme in Clue. Be glad to know: Clue, Jr. (a gift for my 6- and 7-year-olds) challenges players to figure out who ate cake, with what drink, at what time, with no mention of murder.

Before all the Christmas craziness, I took the kids and out-of-town family visitors on a day trip to Galveston beach to ride the public ferry, because that's what we do when there's no school. (Wally would love to come too, but he works instead. 
Because kids + housing + food = $$$.)

It was cold. We saw dolphins!

There is a random, creepy, underground, free (on Thursdays) museum in Houston called the Buffalo Bayou Cistern. It's an old water storage system that the city retired in 2004, because repairs were more expensive than its worth. Now it's a cool tour at a cool park. 

We hung out at the back of the tour and got a sample of "Raindrops on Roses" with a 17-second echo from the docent.

If you're in Houston for a day, visit Hermann Park. If you're in Houston for two days, also visit Buffalo Bayou Park's Cistern

View from the perimeter walk around the underground cistern
Our f***ing dog killed my sister's pet rabbits while we were in town for the holidays. 

Because my parents -- who welcome my scraggly motley boy crew of destruction with open arms any day, all day, anytime, for as long as we may need -- also welcome anyone and anything that needs a place to stay. And this Christmas, it was a stray terrier wandering the neighborhood on the coldest day of the year, and it just had to belong to someone, because it was so d*mn cute. 

The dog's microchip paired it with a guy in Louisiana, getting married this weekend, whose fiance doesn't like it and gave it to her coworker's friend's kids, who left it with an aunt while they were out of town, who left it outside, because who wants somebody else's troublesome terrier in their house over Christmas (oh, right, us). 

So the terrier, named "Sky," moved into our dog's crate, because stray dogs are unpredictable. And then, our most genteel dog, Buckeye, who's never destroyed anything in his three-year-old life, killed my sister's rabbits. Or at least one of them. We still can't find the other.

Every few months, I try to take a photo with all the kids together. Someday, they will all look at the camera and smile, at the same time, so help me, God.

After our family's chaotic Christmas arrival at my in-laws, with kids going every direction at loudest volume, I accidentally walked in on a family member, alone in a back bedroom, breathing deep breaths, in what I interpreted to be a brief moment of emergency meditation. I understood completely. And wanted to join her. (Instead, I backed out as quickly as I came in, trying to give her a moment of peace. I don't think she noticed me.)

We saw "Star Wars!" Our dates are usually once or twice a year, in Dallas, the land of free family babysitting. It was fun to get out. 

I wore my Han Solo boots over jeans -- which I saw in a meme that all the cool kids are doing now -- and channeled my inner General Leia Organa. The strong female leads were awesome. 

A highlight from our Dallas visit was a trip to the zoo with my parents (while my dog killed my sister's rabbits). 

Each kid had one breakdown over the course of about two hours, which, really, is not bad for kids. But with so many kids, it averaged about one tantrum per animal exhibit. 

Thankfully, there weren't many people around to bother. And I got some fun grandparent pics. 
"I'm watching the chickens!" he told me.
We had snow! In Conroe! It was like a blizzard!

I arrived at Christmas Eve Mass as my usual grumpy self (at least of late). Sleep seemed much more appealing than liturgy, after too long a day, too long a week, and honestly, too long a year.

Even still, the beauty of everything helped warm the chilly sanctuary. 

Fr Michael looked out on a half-empty sanctuary, and noted, sincerely, that it was a good crowd. Sometimes a pastor will casually stroke the egos of those in attendance -- particularly on feast days with difficult schedules -- with a quip about the comfortable damned, relaxing at home, unaware that the sanctuary sags more heavily under the weight of our pride. Not this night.

He's never seen a human birth, Fr Michael mentions in his homily. But he's seen plenty of cows give birth, and surely, it's similar. I have no doubt, it is.

Divinity joins humanity in this painful, difficult, messy process of birth, and then, stays with us, all the way through the painful, difficult, messy process of death. It was an unusual Christmas message. 

There was some profound theology in there about what it all means, references to re-birth, new life, eternity, but those parts didn't stick to me and come back home, not this year at least. I heard that Jesus is in the painful, difficult, and messy.

"You're getting so many gray hairs!" -- greeting from my older sister.

Merry Christmas, dear friends. May the gray hairs of this coming year be signs of wisdom for a life lived deeply.

The top third of our tree doesn't light up, but whatever.

1 comment:

  1. Love you and your amazing family so very much! You can brig a tear to my eye, a tug at my heartstrings, and a smile to my lips just seconds apart! Happy New Year to all the Baders!