Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Eve and the Feast

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

It has been a flurry of activity and I am sure I am forgetting much of it. But Wednesday Basil and I went shopping for a Christmas Present for his Mommy. We live in an area where there is a high concentration of interior designers and furniture stores, and on Wednesday they allput their Christmas decorations on sale. So Basil picked out three new Christmas tree ornaments for his Athanasia: An angel playing a lute, a nativity scene made of copper and porcelain, and a red glass bauble. I know other things happened that day but I really can't remember them except for ... Oh! We stopped by my brother's house on the way to San Francisco. I gave him some books and panatone to give to his grandchildren, who he would be seeing later in the day. (Although he is the youngest of my siblings he is nine years older than me.) He gave me a bottle of Mama Lucia, which is like Kahlua, except that it is made with a tequila base. I don't think it can be bought in the U.S. I'm looking forward to opening it sometime soon. Hmmm. Maybe I'll save till Pentecost and share it with Bishop Benjamin and Patria... whoops! I mean Metropolitan Jonah.

We got to San Franciso just 10 minutes before the butcher shop closed. We always buy our Christmas ham (whole, bone-in, smoked) from Bryan's on California Street in Laurel Village. We were very worried we were going to be late. But we made it with ten minutes to spare. Then from Bryans we went to a little burritoria on Divisadero, where we had our last veggie burritos for a while. Then Zoomed to church for the Festal Vigil.

Matushka Naomi took Basil from us and let us relax in the chanting. Then she did something totally unexpected. She let go of him and let him walk around, even run a coupe of times in the nave. Well, I guess if she lets him do that then it must be okay.

The service of course was great. Basil Wenceslas loves getting the oil on his head. Anselm Samuel likes the bread dipped in wine.

When we got home we put a candle in the window for Jesus, the Theotokos, and St. Joseph. We unlocked the front door for the Magi. We went to bed. Late during the night I put the boys stocking in bed with them.

When they woke up this morning they were very surprised. Anslem said, "Wait, I thought Santa Clause wasn't real. Did The St. Nicholas bring this? This isn't his day. Did the wise men come? They only visit one house each Christmas. Why'd they come to our house? Did Mommy put the stocking in bed with us? I don't understand." It was funny.

I woke up with a stuffy head and a sore throat.

The Nativity Liturgy was a hierarchical liturgy with Bishop Benjamin presiding. Anselm served and got to do lots of cool things. This time he held the silver bowl for Bishop Benjamin and carried prophora. (He has carried the prosphora many times but it only dawned on me tonight that he didn't know what it was. So tonight I told him about the angel in heaven who carries prayers to God (Rev. 8:4) and explained that when he carries the prosphora to the altar he is carrying the prayers of God's people. He was pretty amazed by that. He had thought it was just bread with Greek writing on it.)

With basil we followed Matushka Naomi's example and, for the most part, let Basil wander around in the nave during the liturgy. but he was sick and tired and cranky and hungry so the tactic wasn't quite as successful as it was last night. But for the most part, it worked. Several times he strode across the nave from the south wall to the north wall, or from the north wall to the south wall, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE AMBO. Once right when Bishop Benjamin was blessing the people with the dikiri and trikiri.

I was almost mortified. After the service Bishop Benjamin walked up to us, and said, "That was really cute how Basil tip toed across the room right in front of me". I said, "Your Grace didn't mind?" To which he replied "Are you kidding? I'm just happy he's here. Merry Christmas." Bishop Benjamin baptized basil three years ago. It is my hope that in another 10 or 12 he will tonsure Basil a Reader.

Cyndi and I passed out all the cranberry orange bread, several choir members gave my boys stuffed animals, an other woman in the parish, who never had children of her own gave presents to every child in the parish, one of the subdeacons had presents of fine chocolate for all the acolytes.

After we got home I cooked the Christmas Sausage while presents under the tree were opened. I have to admit that I was a little bit worried as I watched the pile of presents growing under there the last few days. I am not opposed to Christmas presents, of course, but I am opposed to my kids thinking of Christmas as the day the get lots of new toys. My concern was completely misplaced. My wife is very wise and almost every present under the tree was a replacement for some article of clothing the boys had outgrown. I have the best wife.

Oh, but I should tell you what she gave me: Six bottles of gin (Gilby's, Seagram's, Bombay, Beefeater, and Hendricks), a bottle of vermouth, jar of olives, and a cocktail glass. Now I am sure you are thinking "where is the wisdom in that present?" Well, the bottles of gin were those little miniature bottles they sell for a dollar each!

After sausage my illness intensified and at about 3 o'clock I had to lay down for a while. I got up at 5:30 still not feeling great but doing okay. Stomach is still upset.

We watched "Irving Berlin's White Christmas" staring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Cloony. Athanasia had cooked ham while I was recumbent. I had a little but not much. My stomach just feels a little topsy turvey. I don't think it was the sausage, though, since Basil, Anselm, and Athanasia seem unaffected by stomach symptoms. While watching the movie Basil and I played with play-dough. Athanasia made him 10 lbs of the stuff for Christmas.

After Athanasia and Basil went to bed, Anselm read one of his new books, "The Very Hungry Caterpiller " to me. Of course, I used the occasion to talk about the resurrection from the dead. And then I read to him "Strangers and other Angels" from one of our many Christmas books.

Now it is time to go to bed. Second Day of Christmas starts in just few minutes.

Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a Star to adore You,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know You, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You!


DebD said...

Your 2 days sound lovely. I love the idea of leaving a candle out and the doors unlocked. How sweet.

I hope you're feeling better today.

Oh, and I know what you mean about the growing present pile - I have similar issues.

Mimi said...

Christ is Born!

What a lovely time you had, and Bishop BENJAMIN's comments were really lovely.

Philippa said...

I always love to read your stories about your boys and Christmas. I vicariously celebrate with you through the reading.

Thank you for sharing them Matt.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!