This morning I awoke sad because there was no candy in my shoes. I told this to my Islamic best friend, who was instantly baffled. I explained that it was Saint Nicholas Day here on the Christian calendar, and she recalled a kindergarten memory of receiving a orange in her sneaker. That was the first and last time she participated in such a tradition. It was typical, for me, to awake each December 6th to find Hershey Kisses and candy canes tucked in the toes of my Mary Janes. Of course, this tradition ceased when I moved out of my parents house, but Mom would always try to remember and give me little candies on the day. So, with her currently decommissioned, I was vaguely forlorn that there was no candy in my shoe.
Anyway, I’d mentioned to Sahar that we have another holiday on the 8th, and it reminded me, as I explained it to her, then it’s probably our most ridiculous. No offense to any of my Catholic or Christian readers, but why do we have a feast day celebrating a very special date night for Mary’s parents? A surprising amount of people I know, including those raised Catholic and Christian, think that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception has to do with the day that Jesus was conceived. No, no, my friends. It was Mary who was born without Original Sin, thus becoming perfect vessel for God’s son. And here we are, insisting folk go to church to celebrate Mary’s parents taking the train to pound town. We were in about 7th grade when we figured this out by the way, and I don’t recall anyone saying “hey this makes perfect sense!” Mostly just sex jokes, guys. Not well executed, St. Paul’s School.
I then went on to start explaining Advent, but at this point spelling everything out seems so ridiculous. Advent is kind of like Lent, another crazy Catholic thing. Except Advent is only 4 weeks long, commemorates each week with the lighting of a candle, and you don’t have to give anything up like you do during Lent where it’s all about the sacrificing. Advent is about waiting and being patient-super fun time for the grade-school crowd. I remember we would start the holiday season by making our Advent wreaths: pine circles with four candles attached, three purple and one pink. That’s how we knew it was Christmastime at school. We also knew we would be going to mass every week until Christmas. Like I said, a super fun time for a 6th grader.
But then comes the actual day! It’s the birth of Jesus! Except for the part where he was born in the springtime, and in an effort to convert the pagans, the church chose Yule as the time of celebration for Jesus.
Once upon a time, Bernadette was in a play at a church with one of her friends. I believe they were Methodists. Anyway, my aunt Ka, the Sister of Mercy, attended with me. The theme of the play was “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I was immediately outraged, because I absolutely hate that phrase, as it is completely false. I don’t mind Jesus being the reason you celebrate, but like…The Druids are the reason for the “season.” Now, I’m not Catholic anymore, obviously. When I celebrate Christmas, I am celebrating a phase of the Earth. I am celebrating a new year coming, and an old one passing through. If you want to celebrate Jesus’s birthday, that’s perfectly cool with me, we just can’t be out here denying facts, is all I’m saying. Anyway, that year, Ka give me a “Jesus is the reason for the season” ornament. My mom thinks it was a genuine gesture; I think it was a little prank. Ka may have been a nun, but she was also very smart, funny, and “got me,” even when mom thought she wouldn’t.
I don’t know where I was going with most of this. Christmas still does not seem real to me this year. I think I might need some help getting into the spirit. Where can I put in for a Christmas miracle; is there some sort of lotto? Anyway, you let me know, and meanwhile I will keep checking my shoes for Hershey Kisses.