christmas - midnight mass
I am Catholic. When I was young, for Christmas, we went to Midnight Mass as celebrated by our church. The preparation at home was fairly simple - we ate a lite supper and then Dad and I took a nap before we had to get dressed and leave for Mass at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Mass started at Midnight but Christmas Carols and seat-selecting and getting comfortable caused us to leave our house much earlier than we would for regular Mass on Sundays. I would say, if memory serves me right, we left the house around 10:30 p.m. for Midnight Mass!
Back in those days, we were joined at our Catholic Church by a lot of non-practicing Catholics, and just non-Catholics as well. I am sure the same occurs now. That is quite okay with me. It gives more people a chance to pray for themselves and others that need praying for.
The church service included all the same as the regular Sunday (or daily) Mass did - the readings, etc. but I remember some years we had live animals on the altar which were a treat! Mainly though I remember the Christmas Carols...and we seemed to sing them throughout the entire service. Christmas Carols are still so special to me. They were always very special to my mom as well.
After the service (Mass) was over, we would head back to the car in the parking lot - along with all the others - and hope for some snow to start falling. And then we would head back home. Once we got home we enjoyed some of those Christmas cookies that Mom baked - Pecan & Date Pinwheels, Almond Crescents, Chocolate Chips and Kolacky with a big glass of milk. We would take one last glance of the wrapped presents and then go to bed for an early rise. It was so glorious!!
God Bless and Merry Christmas!! -- Peg
"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" –- Bob Hope
what christmas used to mean to me
So, it’s the first week of December 2018 and Christmas is 3 weeks away. It’s the time I really start remembering my Christmases gone by. And gosh they were great ones too! Chrismases with Mom and Dad, and with Bob and Don. Christmases with Tom. And Christmases with Annie - especially when Annie was growing up!
I remember the REAL Christmases we had when I was growing up. As a child I remember the real Christmas trees. I remember the real Christmas wreaths (well, maybe Mom used SOME fake ones when we were still kids).
I remember the real Christmas cookies (Mom always baked cookies and Kolacky, never bought them to serve us or guests). I remember when everything about Christmas was real (well, almost everything).
I remember shopping with my Dad so he could buy my Mom presents. We went Christmas shopping, we didn’t order online. The two of us would go to downtown Valparaiso, Indiana, and it would be snowing and Christmas carols would be playing outside. I remember Burl Ives’ Silver Bells playing from speakers perched at the top of the Porter County Courthouse and Dad singing the lyrics along: “It’s Christmastime in the city...Soon it will be Christmas Day… As the shoppers rush home with their treasures...Hear the snow crunch ...see the kids bunch...” It was magical to me then and still is now - just my Dad and me - and just shopping for my Mom. We would get her some Calgon (it was then) body bath splash and a couple of other things she would like. Remember, Bob and Don are 8 and 6 years older than I am so they were probably busy at the time with young teenage “boy” stuff.
We had a real (we called them “live” but it really just wasn’t artificial) Christmas tree. Almost everyone in our neighborhood would have a real tree, but decorations varied. My Mom was very particular about her tree’s decorations, and I remained the same all through my life, too. Even Annie now believes a real Christmas tree is special. By the way, our last Christmas tree we bought in California was for our temporary apartment as we were planning to move to Las Vegas. We bought a real and LIVE tree, yet small one and decorated it for the apartment. After Christmas we gave the tree to Sara and her family (Sara and her family was Annie’s daycare family) so they could plant it in their backyard to remember Annie and us by!
After the tree was put in its tree-stand and water was added (water was added everyday to ensure the tree would stay fresh and "alive"), string lights were put around the tree. The string of lights was started at the top and added all the way to the bottom, about eight inches apart but all the way around (so the tree and/or the lights were not touching the wall).
Next, Christmas “bulbs” were added to the branches. As a child, these were glass bulbs, mostly round and mostly the same size, and mostly red, green, gold and silver. But a few were special - and not round - and some were from what we made (at school or at our friends’, but not at our home).
Then we added the ICICLES - these were the big debate throughout the years of trees (not ours, but of ours compared to others!). My Mom made sure that we only put the icicles on our tree one at a time! We could not throw them on or clump them on or put hand-fulls on! Needless to say, it took a lot longer to decorate the Witmer Family Christmas Tree every year, but it was the MOST organized, MOST symmetrical, MOST beautiful Christmas Tree I will ever remember!! Also, I never remember adding garland to our Christmas Tree.
While we were putting those Icicles on the tree, Mom would put a “fake” artificial wreath on the front door. That wreath would the first to great neighbors and be the first to wish a Merry Christmas. It would generally just be a medium-sized, pine-green and decorated with minor Christmas-like items (holly, etc.). Mom would then put electric Christmas Lights (a 5-light "candolier") in the bedroom windows so that people could see them from the sidewalk outside. She would also put a heavy two-foot old-fashioned church with steeple in our living room that played Silent Night when plugged-in and wound up. It made the move from Pennsylvania to Indiana, but I remember being “hurt” when it didn’t make the move Las Vegas from Indiana.
Finally, Mom would put the Christmas Wreath Light on the top of the tree. It was in the shape of a star so it made sense to be at the top of the tree. It connected to the string of lights so it, itself, would also light up, which was very nice.
And there the Christmas Tree was, and the Christmas Wreath on the front door, and the Old-Fashioned Church with its Steeple ready to play Silent Night and the various other decorations Mom put out for us to enjoy the season. I remember coming home from school until Christmas Break and then having two weeks off at Christmas Break to enjoy the tree and my family and my friends. And then it was getting closer and closer to Christmas Eve (Midnight Mass) and Christmas Day - and I will save those memories to share with you in my next posts.
God Bless, Peg
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas...” -- Meredith Wilson
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