The readings don't fit in with what has made Christmas Eve wonderful for us. As my mind travels back over so many many Christmas Eves it strikes me that our earlier memories are dearest to us.
Put up with me as I recall Christmas Eves from four of my life spans. First, from when I was six to when I was twelve; then, from when I was fourteen to when I was twenty-four; next from when I was twenty-six till I was thirty-seven; finally from when was fifty-four to when I was eighty.
From when I was six to when I was twelve our ten family members sat around a dining room table piled high with gifts. My sister Peggy and I each spent our saved-up two dollars for dime store presents for everyone. There was1 oohing and aahing as each of us opened the presents that our dad fished out of the pile. Prudy held high each of her first nylon stockings.
From age fourteen to 23 as seminarians for Epiphany Parish we were in awe of the way older seminarians swung the thurible, or chanted the Epistle. We were immensely proud of teaming up with the older seminarians.
From age 26 to 37 I was pastor in Yang Yang, Korea where we hopelessly tried to heat the church with buckets of charcoal. One Christmas Eve we had sixty people lined up for Baptism. And, after Mass, we had them all squatting on the rectory floor, piling in food, and piling out songs.
From my 54th to 80th I was pastor at St. Paul's, Jacksonville. Those were my grandest Christmas Eves, but those Christmases later on lacked the Christmas thrills that the Christ child reserves for other children.