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Advent 2018 – Thursday, December 20

Some of my most meaningful Christmas memories stem from my family’s Midnight Mass tradition each year.

One Christmas in particular remains with me. My Mother, as always, got all 6 kids dressed up in our finest to go to Midnight Mass (she stayed home for a quiet nervous breakdown before our return). I put on my red plaid dress, tights with a hole in the toe, and my “best” shoes – black patent leather. As we entered our church’s neighborhood, cars were everywhere, so parking was a long way off. We climbed out of the station wagon with my Dad, and walked about 3 blocks in the dark, icy streets. My fancy shoes were very slippery, so I kept curling my toes to hold them on, and stay balanced. My holey-tights-toe pinched painfully in the almost-too-small-shoes, causing me to quietly say “Ow,” with each left-step. I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to get there, so I can rub my sore toe.”

Obviously, the anticipation of the celebration of Christ’s birth was, at that moment, lost on this 5 year old, but the magic of the dark streets, my warm coat and hat, and holding hands with my sibs gave me a sense of deep belonging and contentment. Once I emancipated my toe, I was overcome by the sacred service. It always awed me. It still does.

What does Christmas feel like? Well, one memory is of a sore, cold toe, and the anticipation of freeing it. Now? The anticipation of celebrating our Savior’s birth, what that means to the world, and the peace and joy of the season. That’s a feeling as real as a sore toe.

Jude Mitchell, church lady (still working on the training part)