Christmas Bucket List

This morning I was trying to decide what I wanted to post about today.  I had a lot of ideas but then as I was working in the yard I had a new idea.  Bucket List!  Natalie and I have been talking about our love and excitement for Christmas now for 6 months.  We’ve talked and written a lot about what we do, we like, we know, and we wish.  But what about our dream to do list for Christmas, you know, a Christmas Bucket List?  I will be challenging Natalie to create said list as soon as she returns from her journeys.  This will be our dream list of the Christmas things we hope to do in our lifetime.  Here’s my first one…

Visit St. Peter’s Basilica for Christmas mass.  St. Peter’s is the largest Christian church in the world and a center of Catholicism.  It covers 5.7 acres and can seat thousands.  It took 120 years to build and is sadi to be the burial site for the apostle Peter, its namesake.  With all that space getting in would be easy, right?  Just get to Rome and make your way to the church and wait in line.  Nope!  It is like a quest from the crusades to find out how to get the elusive Christmas tickets for a Papal mass.  Now if you want to go for a regular mass at the Basilica, Pope or no Pope, there are daily masses at 8:30, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and 5:00.  On Sunday you can choose between 9:00, 10:30, 11:30, 12:15, 1:00, 4:00, 5:00 and 5:45. If you want confession, that’s daily.  To get these tickets, according to a site for visitors, you just go to St. Pete’s Square and find the bronze doors to the Apostolic Palace and request tickets from the Swiss Guard.  I wonder if there is a password needed?!  The site directs readers that wish Christmas or Easter mass tickets to go to the site for the Church of Santa Susanna, the home of the American Catholic Church in Rome.  But if you read closely on that site they let you know in no uncertain terms that they cannot help you with tickets for Christmas or Easter because “having to sit and tell people that they are not going to Saint Peter’s and experiencing their hurt and anger is just too much for us”.  They do let you know that your best hope is to contact the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan at the Bishop’s Office for U.S. Visitors , Office of the Vatican in Rome.  You may make your request by fax or email.  Don’t expect a reply to or conformation of your request, there are simply too many!  So how will I be able to know that I can get these tickets for my trip?  Plan far in advance and pray, pray a lot!


Newly marrieds and Christmas traditions

After I posted about Hallmark card commercials on Super Bowl Sunday, faithful listener Denise Reynolds sent me a link to a 1999 Hallmark Commercial about a young woman who joins her new husband’s family for Christmas.  It’s her first holiday away from home.  By the middle I was sobbing.

Valentine’s Day is just around corner, and this February holiday reminds me of  couples and love and how difficult and stressful it can be for new marrieds (or newly engaged couple) to fit in to the established Christmas traditions.

In our family, we attend Christmas Eve Mass together, and every member of the extended family—infant to grandparent—participates in the Mass.  Even pew-warmers must supervise wiggly shepherds and angels.  My son, Ian, was the first live Jesus in the Gospel reading and pageant more than two decades ago, but we have been a part of the mass for years before that.  So, any new member must pass the family test of attending and participating, as instructed by Director Grandma Shirley.  That’s a lot of pressure for a newly engaged young man or woman in our family.  We break them in slowly—in the early years, they hold a candle in the procession and stand in reverence around the Holy Family.    Baby Jesus comes later, obviously.

In our podcast this week, we’ll be talking about engaged and newly marrieds and the best strategies for managing the holiday family obligations.