Today the Savior of the World is born. Often during the consecration at mass, I say to myself, “Here You are Lord. You have come to be with me and protect me. You died for me that I might live.” Today we celebrate Jesus’ birth to the Blessed Virgin Mary and honor Joseph as her husband and earthly father to God.
Christmas has always been special to me. I remember going to find the tree and waiting for Dad to put the lights on before we could hang the ornaments. Christmas morning we had to wait again until he set up the lights to photograph us opening our gifts. Even as early as age eight or nine, I loved to wrap all the gifts for our family. We used to go shopping together with Dad taking us two girls and Mom taking the two boys to find gifts that I am sure only cost a few dollars. Everything was bright and sparkly and I loved it. Of course, we had the manger scene , the song Silent Night and Christmas Eve mass to remind us of the real meaning of Christmas.
The Church has given us Advent as a special time of pondering what Christ’s birth means to us, individually and as people seeking meaning in our lives. What is life here on earth without the greater significance of one day spending eternity with God? God gave us that opportunity when He sent His son to die for us. But, often Advent is lost with the “To Do” lists and “To Buy” lists. It is easy to get anxious and even burned out as we try to get everything done.
That is why it is so important to take a moment today, pause and realize that Christmas Starts Now. My friend Rebecca Even has provided us with lovely music, an illustrated book and family projects to create a real Christmas – 12 Days of Christmas. I have had so much fun making the decorated candles to be lit each day, ornaments to be hung on the tree and tags allotting the gifts for my family to be opened over the next 12 days. One or two in each of my children’s families will open a gift and I will cuddle a grandchild as I read the meaning behind each day. The faith I was given long ago and treasure so much will be shared beyond just one busy day of celebration.
Kirk and I have sung the old 12 Days of Christmas song at our Marriage Encounter Christmas party for years, with hand motions and dancing out in the yard. This year we will read the true meaning for each day and think about why Christ came to be born among us. The story dates back centuries to the time Catholics were not allowed to practice their faith in England and Ireland. The children were taught words of the song, but also learned the meaning behind them, which helped to keep the faith alive.
“My True Love” referred to God our Father. “Me” meant every baptized person.
– The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ born in the manger.
– Two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments.
– Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
– Four calling birds were the four gospels.
– Five golden rings recalled the first five books of the Old Testament.
– Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
– Seven swans a-swimming represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
– Eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
– Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
– Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
– Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
– Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
Watch Father Hallard Stockert’s eyewitness account of finding 17th Century Jesuit letters enumerating the Traditional 12 days of Christmas as a code for Irish Catholics. His first person testimony puts to rest the erroneous internet debate about the validity of this story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWfChdCylZY
Rebecca believes that Catholics who celebrate the 12 days of Christmas experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, as they cut through the chaos of consumerism. See all that Rebecca has created at www.LiveTheTwelveDays.com and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP4GDlwK4cQ.
I hope you take time to focus on the Christmas we are just beginning. Make this a New Year to remember starting now. Please know how much you are loved. I wish you all a most blessed Christmas and much joy in the New Year. Janet LaPlante