I stay at home and go to bed early.
Here’s why: First of all, I’m pretty exhausted not only from celebrating Christmas, but its a very busy time for a priest. Not only do we have to preside at services at unusual hours, but there are a lot of services and a lot of people.
Furthermore, practically every year there is a crisis of some kind. Maybe marriage tensions that have been simmering boil over. Somebody gets drunk and has a car crash. Old people die. You’d be amazed how many “go home for Christmas”. Pastors have to be there.
Besides, I don’t see the point of the New Year celebration. What’s to celebrate? A new calendar? It seems to be no more than a celebration just to celebrate. Sort of like “Let’s drink up to the fact that we can drink up.” I wouldn’t mind celebrating the New Year if it was a celebration of the new start of humanity through the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Christian new year used to be just that. For a thousand years Catholics celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25–the Feast of the Annunciation and the beginning of our Redemption. You can read about that in this article I wrote last year for Imaginative Conservative. Go here.
It reminds me of the fact that I’m a misplaced medieval. I should have been born back then. Some people get nostalgic about the 1950s. I get nostalgic about the 1350s. I would have been quite happy celebrating Lady Day as it was called with a nice procession of the Blessed Virgin, Mass and a feast in the Great Hall of the local Lord of the Manor. In England, and if the Black Death came along, well we all have to die sometime.
Hogmanay? For hogs. Party hats? Bah. Humbug. Razzer noise toys? For the boys. Fireworks? Save ’em for Fourth of July. Get drunk? I’ve got tomorrow morning to think about. Dancing in the streets with strangers? Fuhgeddaboudit.
The thing is, to enjoy yourself that much you have to get drunk first, and I’ve only ever been that drunk once. On purpose. When I was in my twenties to see what it was like. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like the headache the next morning and I didn’t like staggering home from the party having made a fool of myself.
Catholics do have something to celebrate however. January 1 is the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. There’s a new beginning for the human race: God made man in Palestine and so a simple woman becomes the Mother of God. The great is sublimated the humble is elevated. God comes down so that humanity can go up.
So call me a Puritan, a Scrooge or a Mennonite, but I’ll be there to hear confessions at 4:45 for an hour and celebrate the Mother of God vigil at 6.
Then I’ll go home and relax with my family, light the fire and hope the neighborhood fireworks don’t scare the dogs…
Image via Bing