This was my first Christmas at home for three years, and what a blessing it was! Though I was plagued with a cold from the moment I got off the plane, it has been a great time.
The first thing was the annual Caroling at the Bay party at my grandmother's house (my first in three years). There were so many people there, I was amazed. Grandmother had made wassail, of course. I was glad of that because I had made wassail with her recipe for the past three years, but I came home to be reminded just how much better the original is.
That was over a week ago. Since then, I was acting as the deacon at St. Mary's for daily Mass, and actually preached three daily Masses in a row (a thing unheard of at the North American College). But that wasn't the height of my preaching duties this week:
I was on to preach the 4:30 vigil Mass, Mass at dawn, and Mass during the day for Christmas (as well as deaconing at the Cathedral for Midnight Mass). Or so I thought... After the 4:30 Mass, Fr. Tony pulled me aside and asked me to take his place preaching at the 6:30 vigil as well! It was a real blessing to be able to preach that much, especially on Christmas.
Christmas morning was fun, as usual. All of my siblings, siblings-in-law, and I do a name swap every year since there are so many of us. I got my brother-in-law's name this year, and took it as the last opportunity to get some unique Italian gifts for him. He got a miniature Bocca della Verità and an Italian movie poster for The NeverEnding Story.
My sister-in-law picked my name and got me some great stuff: a coffee mug covered in Shakespearean insults and an excellent t-shirt from The Princess Bride.
We had a "small" number at Mom and Dad's for Christmas dinner, small meaning only immediate family, which was thirteen or so people (not even all of my immediate family). I really enjoy visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but I have to admit that a quieter Christmas without the hassle driving from place to place sure was nice.
My family threw a St. Stephen's Day party yesterday. Dec. 26 is the Feast of St. Stephen, but not this year, since it fell on a Sunday - it was replaced with the Feast of the Holy Family. Nevertheless, we had a party, and a bunch of family showed up. We even had another Stephen show up: Steve Hellman, one of the seminarians of the Archdiocese who will be ordained a deacon in the spring.
It has been a blessing to be home, and I've still got lot's to do before returning to Rome. Merry Christmas!
|The great beard of '06|