“A Different Christmas”

The Church Pension Fund sends a monthly check or electronic deposit to those of us old enough to qualify and attempts to cheer our days with a couple of enclosures, one produced by outside professional advisors to the elderly – I seldom look at it – and the other an essay usually written by a retired priest or spouse.  This month’s was entitled “A Different Christmas.”

“For years,” the author told us, “our Christmases were reliably the same,”  familiar ornaments on the tree, same recorded music, and then the Christmas Eve service: “the Christ Mass – was Christmas.”

But the years went on, her priest-husband retired, and they found themselves spending Christmas with children and grandchildren in New Orleans, Arizona, New Mexico.  “But no matter where we were . . . we always made it to a Christmas Eve service in a local Episcopal church.”

So far, so good.  But last year, in Taos, New Mexico, there was a procession to watch and no time to get to the midnight service, nor Christmas Day “because we were, of course, opening presents.”  Of course.

But all was not lost.  The author and her priest-husband put on a formal candlelight dinner for the grandchildren on the second day of Christmas.  They sang Christmas carols, had a stately dinner at which everyone sat up straight and put their napkins in their laps, and then had Fourth-of-July poppers followed by bedlam.  It was, we are told, “a night to remember . . . telling the story, singing the songs, exploding the poppers, for Heaven’s sake.  It was as good as church.”

Excuse me?  What, I wonder, was her husband doing all these years? And what does the Pension Fund think we’ve all been doing with all that stuffy liturgical business when we could have just had a nice dinner at home and handed out poppers?  No wonder church attendance is going down.  We now know it’s just as good to stay home and hand out poppers!

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