The First Day of Christmas

Many writers have noted that, in terms of national and international news, 2014 was a bad one. (It was a tough year for me, too.) Advent didn’t give us a break. I’d like to think we’re due for a couple good months.

The best way to shorten winter is to prolong Christmas; and the only way to enjoy the sun of April is to be an April Fool.
GK Chesterton

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Merry Christmas!

Hope all the P&C readers out there had a good Christmas.

I’m sure there’s a technical term for how the viewer separates the artwork from the background. I love taking creche photos in part because the background is so often completely inappropriate, and occasionally accidentally appropriate. Here, NO TRESPASSING and BEWARE OF THE DOG are a “No room at the inn” for our time.

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Merry Christmas!

Enough of this pre-Christmas and post-Christmas blogging; today is Orthodox Christmas.

Last night I stopped by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Nairobi a few hours before Christmas mass, which I considered attending but was warned off from by a couple non-Amharic-speakers.


Here’s a photo of the inside I took at the urging of a member of the congregation. The painting of the three bearded men depicts the Trinity. I was told that the TV screen, though not working at present, is intended to give people a view of what’s happening in the inner sanctuary when the curtain is closed.

I love watching people showing up for Ethiopian mass, the women in white packed into cars, emerging like circus clowns turning into butterflies.
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Merry post-Christmas!

As predicted, we welcomed Christmas on the road, but within a few hours were in the arms of family, and had a very lovely Christmas day.

We celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family at St. Austin’s Parish in Nairobi, Kenya, where the church was packed, the music lovely, and the homily namechecked Facebook.

No photographs of the church, I’m sorry to say, but continuing my long-running “quirky creche” series, here are a couple of nativity scenes that caught my eye this week.


The household nativity scene above is pretty standard, except for the Godzilla-sized sheep lurking behind it. “You should see the shepherds….””


This one is at the Mwangaza Jesuit Centre. There are several pieces of fantastic religious sculpture there, but our subject today is nativity scenes, so here it is. I like that the shepherd is playing some sort of bagpipes, and also that the background decor is made of gift wrapping paper and Christmas lights. Nice touches, which I’ll keep in mind next time I help make a creche.

Merry pre-Christmas

We had a little pre-Christmas celebration today, lighting all the Advent candles, exchanging gifts, and listening to holiday music.

We’re travelling over the next few days. If all is well will celebrate with family, but what with this week being what it is, there’s a good chance we’ll end up spending the 25th in an airport somewhere, and we thought we might as well have a little Christmas celebration at home just in case.

If we have to spend Christmas stranded, we’ll be part of a long tradition, including many TV specials and the birth of Christ itself.

I don’t know what my internet access will be this week, either, so here’s my #1 nativity scene of 2010, from the Christmas pageant at Pleasant Street Baptist Church.

A Christmas tree, a tabletop nativity scene, kids on a couch, a living nativity scene, a huge cross, the Snow Ghost, and a hymn on a huge screen among the angels. There’s enough theology here, even at low resolution, for a novel, with a couple icons left over.

Merry Christmas!

Not long before he retired, Fr. Ed Bell began his Christmas homily by asking if anyone remembered any of his past Christmas homilies. After an embarrassed silence, he laughed and said he didn’t remember any of them, either. That’s OK–Christmas isn’t about homilies. (Or blog posts.)

From today’s homily by a different priest at the same parish:

I don’t care if Wal-Mart doesn’t have a nativity scene. I don’t care if K-Mart doesn’t have a nativity scene. I care if these pews are filled.

My Christmas wish is that your heart and home are filled today.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Christmas Eve bus wreck


Greyhound bus crash. Icy roads. I was released from the hospital with a tetanus shot and a bandage. The front of the bus caved in, trapping the driver. He seemed in very bad shape. I was three seats behind him. The people in the seats in front of me seemed pretty hurt, but were able to walk around afterwards.

Say a prayer for everyone travelling this week, that they will stay safe.

Still haven’t made it to my family after spending 24 hours on what should have been a 10-hour trip. With luck, I’ll be there for Christmas lunch.

The Christmas Miracle, for me, is that this delay meant I connected with a friend at the Philly bus station, and we spent the long ride across PA together.

Weary travelers. I think this is the Plainfield Rest Area on the PA Turnpike.

Some Christmas stuff

This year I somehow finished most of my Christmas chores in late November. Then things got super-busy, and the last few tasks, like writing this pre-Christmas blog post, got pushed till the last minute.

Civil disobedience through oil and gas bids
Adam sent along this inspiring story of Tim DeChristopher, who de-railed “an oil- and gas-lease sale that caught the attention of Congress and the incoming Obama administration.”

Holiday giving?
If you’re thinking of donating money to an interesting cause, and you’ve already helped your church and local Catholic Worker house, you might consider Worcester’s EMPOWER. This group has been working to start a local biodiesel cooperative, converting waste restaurant fryer oil into home heating oil. They’re raising a few more funds so they can finish crossing the Ts and dotting the Is and begin production. You can learn more about them through EPOCA (their fiscal sponsor), or I’d be happy to put you in touch with the right people.

If you’re looking for a present for post-Christmas giving, you could do worse than the Snow Ghost Community Show DVD box set, available for a $50 donation to WCCA TV13, Worcester’s cable access station (and my sometime employer). Get your copy at WCCA’s office or HBML. I’m slowly uploading the images to the Archive for your DVD-burning pleasure.
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