The smell of pine evokes the memories of Christmases past. There is no place other than in the mind and heart that these snippets of time live laying dormant until the time is right to grab you and pull you to another place. For me it is the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking and the sight of a dark mustard colored table cloth where mom set the cookies to cool. The heady scent of vanilla and sugar and egg brings a smile always.
The idea that Christmas is most important and magical things should happen has always left me with a sense of disquiet. Sure there are parties and times with family but the chasm of spiritual fulfillment on this day is astounding. This is the day in which Christians are supposed to find joy in the acknowledgement of Christ’s birth. So many times I hear people say that they cannot find the Christmas Spirit. This elusive ghost caught in songs and images in art and film seemingly hard to capture and hold is not so ephemeral as you might think.
For those of us who have children Christmas has a deeper connection. Birthday parties are why all these other out croppings of holiday symbols beyond Mary and the Christ child abound. Parents go to extraordinary lengths to celebrate birthdays. And that is what Christmas is, the celebration of a birth of a child. A child whom some call a myth, others a magic mushroom, some deny his existence, some martyr themselves for Him. Christ, be he real or a symbol, exemplifies sacrifice. Parents know this all too well, no matter your religion, when you have a child you sacrifice for it. Women give time and space within their body to nurture and then bring forth life. Fathers give up freedoms and pleasures to be able to provide for the life they helped create. Even parents who are not there, junkies, whores, selfish individuals, or even just genetic donors, still have made contribution to some end. The pain and loss all children bring is off set by the joys they inspire.
So anymore when I think of Christmas I think of Mary. Mary as a woman scorned for her pregnancy as an unwed mother. She is a woman of strength and courage who fled in the night with a young man, Joseph, who was willing to love and care for her and her child. This woman who ultimately watched her child die for his own peaceful teachings humbles me and fills me with courage and awe.
In giving so much and holding no expectation of anything other than the hope that a kindness might one day be returned I wish you all a Mary Christ Mass.