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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Rules

We're headed out to get our tree sometime today. We like to purchase our tree from felons who are trying to stay out of jail. They run just about all of the Christmas tree lots around here, so even if we wanted to get a tree from a non-felon, I think we'd be out of luck. Ironically, next to every Christmas tree lot is a medical marijuana ....parlor. When Christmas is but a happy memory, those who are smoking theirs away will still be with us.

It has come to my recent attention that there is a medical marijuana facility at just about the same distance in any direction I might walk. That would be about four blocks. At first I had no idea that these places with lots of tropical plants and American flags out front were joint joints. I found out because I asked the man at the Seven Eleven on the corner what the deal was with that flag place and when I expressed my surprise at his answer he listed all the other locations. That took some time.

The newest one leaves no one guessing. There is a young lady standing outside yelling, "Medical Marijuana!" and pointing up the stairs. At least she has a job. As jobs get harder to find, medical marijuana becomes ever more easily located.

But we were talking about Christmas trees:

Sister, Here is a question for you on another topic: when is a good time to put up a Christmas tree? I know there is no dogma of the Church about this, but maybe you have some advice. Here's my take:
1. The day after Thanksgiving! This is just too soon, and falls into the whole "Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends at noon on Christmas Day" secular mindset.

2. Dec. 17. It's when Advent becomes "more serious." The second Advent preface is used at Mass and there is a proper for each date. This is also about the time when the Vatican's Christmas tree goes up.
3. Dec. 24. Isn't this the best time?! After all, it's a Christmas tree . . . not an Advent tree. But all the trees are picked over by then . . . and no one really seems to do this anymore.
Any advice?

We always put ours up one week before Christmas and take it down on New Year's Day so the house doesn't go up in flames from the impossibly dried out tree. As I have mentioned, I love Christmas and just don't think you can go overboard. Our tree is lit up like an incoming UFO, due in no small part to our collection of bubble lights. Oh, how I love them.

You can put your tree up whenever you like. It's up to you how long you want to stare at it. Maybe you have an artificial tree and you can leave it up until Lent if you want. Our house would burn down.

I've often wondered how in the world I would get Sister Mary Fiacre out of here in the middle of the night if the place went up. There would be no time for the wheel chair and I would have to try and drag her. You see people do that in movies all the time, dragging some knocked out person through a hallway and out the door. It's really not that easy. The person may as well be Gandhi, only a hundred pounds heavier from living in America, all dead weight and unmoving. It's just about impossible. That's why Gandhi did it, just went all limp and "I dare you to drag me!"

What were we talking about? Oh yes, the tree.

I don't know why you wouldn't just go along with the Vatican on this one any how. We're Catholic, surely we're all used to going along with the Vatican on things by now.

Anyhow, it takes me about a week to get the tree all lined up once it's up. The lights alone are a whole evening's work. By day three, I'm finally on the beads. I think this is a hold over from when I was a child and my Christmas crazed family put a sheet up over the living room door for a whole week before Christmas because Santa was in there working. (Not every second, but you had to cover the whole thing up so he could come and go as needed.) On Christmas day it really looked like Santa had been working in there all week.

After midnight Mass on Christmas Eve/morning we light 'er up and wait for a call from NASA about what just landed at our house.

I'll bet plenty of people still do the Christmas Eve tree. I'll bet those same people leave the tree up all through the Epiphany because they can do it with less fear of burning down the house.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful lightings!! Your Christmas tree is looking gorgeous with them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister!

I hope all is well.

To start my father is a huge fan of your blogs, (direct quote: "she is a star, wish we had more like her") and often sends me quotes to try and reinstate by lapsed Catholicism, (pause for guilty look), we even have the picture of you in a photo shopped Christmas hat on our kitchen notice board, with the sub line "Behave Yourself" an effective reminder in the morning before I set out to work, although rather disconcerting.

However, back to my point. Although I'm no longer a regular attendee of mass, due to a lack of faith. I recently had a holiday in Prague, in which we visited the Cathedral and Apostle clock etc and yet again I was amazed by it all, and wish I had faith and that I could align myself with the church that I have been brought up in. Is it wrong to attend mass, and “go through the motions” yet feel nothing? Hence why I stopped attending.

I've always been a firm defender of the church, if not a believer, yet I've never agreed with all the churches teachings on all subjects. It may be a stupid question but can you be a true Catholic when you have doubts and beliefs of your own that oppose the churches teachings?

Anyways, I hope you have a brilliant Christmas. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

My kids wouldn't let me rest if I delayed putting up our tree. So I worked out this compromise -- it's an Advent Tree until Christmas Eve. I put the lights on right away. After that, each kid gets to put on one ornament a day until Christmas Eve, when we all help put up all the remaining ornaments in a party with carols on the CD and cocoa and cider in the mugs. This seems to assuage their need for a festive "Christmas Season" and acts as an Advent calendar of sorts.

We try to leave the tree up until Epiphany, but honestly, what matters more is the deadline for the city's tree-picking-up service. I don't want to have to drag that old tree off to some dump when the city will pick it up for me.

As for drying out, I have not found this to be a problem. Maybe we get fresher trees in our neck of the woods? :-)

Anonymous said...

Sister - Since you brought up Christmas rules....how about attending Mass on Christmas? This year we are spending the holidays with my in-laws, who are staunch Lutherans. My husband & I feel it is important to do things as a family, so we attend the Christmas Eve service with Grandma & Grandpa at their Lutheran church. Since this si a huge retirement community, Grandma loves being able to show off her beautiful, well behaved granddaughters in their cute holiday dresses, especially since their local grandchildren are non-church attending white trailer trash. Unfortunately, the Lutheran service is held EXACTLY at the same time as Mass at the only Catholic church in the 3 county area. Every priest I ask gives me a different answer, but does watching Mass on TV with the Pope at midnight count towards our obligation? If not, do the children need to go to confession as well, since they have no means to get to Mass without me?

Anonymous said...

I personally think the "Christmas" tree is a pagan idea that should be, at least, very gently discouraged.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of not turning on the lights until Christmas Eve - but I've never done that. We turn them on when we get them on. We have an artificial one this year. It looks real though. I like not worrying about a fire - the LED lights are always cool too. Cool, as in "to the touch" - so, no need to worry there either.

Hey Sister. Come visit me at my new blog sometime!

A Very Blessed Christmas to you!


Janelle said...

The UFO tree is fantastic. You're the best, SMM. Love the pink, too. Happy Advent!

MAB said...

We usually do our tree the weekend before Christmas.

This year, my husband insisted on doing it a week early, in case he wasn't able to do it this weekend. I was skeptical. He cuts it down in the wild, drags it to the van, wrestles it up on the rack, lugs it home and puts it up. So, I didn't complain much. Turns out, he was right. We are on our second of three big snowstorms in five days. No way he would be able to cut one down tomorrow under 17" of snow!

I would love to put mine up on Christmas Eve, but he would never like to wait that long. It's all about compromise.

We try to leave it up through the Baptism of the Lord on January 13. This year, I'll be happy if we make Epiphany.

Jade Dunlop said...

I remember - when I was younger - my mom wanting to wait and put up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Her reason being that my birthday is Dec. 23rd, and she wanted to make my birthday seperate from Jesus' birthday (something about a child's self-esteem or whatever). But, she soon scrapped that idea because a) I couldn't wait to decorate the bottom 1/3 of the tree, and b) all the good trees were gone by the 20th anyway.

Claudia said...

We put up our tree somewhere in the week before Christmas. We have a complete set of old ornaments. My husbands grandfather said the first of the grandchildren to get married would get the ornaments and light. We were the first married in 1971, still together and I sometimes have to recite to my self "Thou shalt not kill..." LOL Our daughter once asked if we got married just to get the decorations and we both said yes at the same time.

At his house, "Santa" put up the tree on Christmas Eve and decorated. He wonder even today how they did that without making any noise.

Unknown said...

advent to epiphany

Anonymous said...

It's usually the weekend after Thanksgiving until a week or so after Christmas in my parent's house (they work for the Postal Service, and this time of year is the worst for their work volume). If I had one myself (the first Christmas I've been out on my own) I would probably wait until Gaudete Sunday. Starting the secular part of Christmas can get me burnt out on the whole meaning of the season very quickly. My mom doesn't really understand this, and when I ride in the car with her, she plays the radio that plays "All Christmas, all the time". I can only take so much Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa Claus in one setting before I want to strangle someone with a string of lights. :D

With that said, this year has been quite different. I made a deal with Mom that she doesn't play Christmas all the time around me (and I've even switched to the station on my own accord a few times).

God Bless!

Amy said...

I like to put mine up Thanksgiving weekend (though it doesn't always happen) and leave it up through epiphany.

And a side note re: dragging Sister Mary Fiacre out in an emergency: use the bed sheet. I work in a nursing home, and this is how we are trained. One person can drag someone much heavier than themselves if they pull the person and the sheets right off the bed, gently onto the floor, and then kind of wrap the foot and head ends of the sheet and use one end or the other to pull the person down the hall. There you go... problem solved! :)

Anonymous said...

We put our tree up on Christmas Eve!! And we leave it up until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord! There are other decorations up earlier. People think we are crazy or Amish or...something! They don't get it when we tell them we are just Catholic.

Anonymous said...

To 'Married to a Good Lutheran,' Mass on TV fulfulling an obligation? Yeah, that's what the other 70 percent of the Catholics must say when they sleep in on Sunday morning. Pa-lease! You KNOW better than that! Also, premeditated confession? Wow. The confessional is not a convenience store. I say that you show the 'staunch' Lutherans that you are staunch in your Catholicism as well. What can we do, especially in a mixed marriage, but set a good example? For our children, our spouse, and our in-laws. I speak from experience. I, too, am married to a Lutheran, but am trying my best to change that through my staunch insistence upon attnending a Catholic service at EVERY occassion, not just when it suits me.

Court D said...

I feel like I got an early Christmas gift in finding your blog, and now I'm definately adding you to my roll. Good stuff and merry Christmas to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

The 12 days of Christmas. The tree goes up and is decorated on 24 December, and doesn't come down until Epiphany. That is, if you even put up a tree. That custom seems to have filtered down into Mexico from the North. It gets very confusing with Santa AND los Tres Magos. Some friends of mine grew up thinking Santa brought socks and underwear... and los Magos brought the good stuff.

A. S. Haley said...

Congratulations, Sister Mary Martha, and not just for your beautifully decorated Christmas tree! On account of your superior blogging, you have officially been designated a recipient of the Superior Scribbler Award.

For the story of the Award, see this post. For your judge's citation, and where you go from here, see this post. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

We used to put ours up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and leave it up to New Years (artificial tree). Actually, that was by my wife's choice -- she has a huge collection of angel ornaments that she used to put on the tree. But after my mother passed away in 2006 (she lived with us the last six years of her life), there just wasn't any joy in it any more. We still do decorations inside the house, including a Nativity set, but I think we've both been kind of depressed since Mom died. Maybe next year we'll go back to putting up the tree.

Anonymous said...

Married to a Good Lutheran: So why can't your in-laws attend Mass with you? They can show off their grandchildren at any of the retirement community functions during the holiday. You and your kids are obligated to attend Mass at Christmas. TV Mass does NOT count! And I might add, "doing things as a family" applies first and foremost to you and your husband and your children -- when you got married, both of you agreed to "leave your fathers and your mothers and cling to each other." Your husband's parents no longer determine such matters as church attendance.

For that matter, are you saying that there is NO Mass on Christmas Day? You could certainly go with the in-laws on Christmas Eve (I guess - probably need to check with your parish priest, and need to be careful that you are only "with your in-laws" not acting as participants in the Lutheran service), and to Mass on Christmas Day.

Anonymous said...

The obligation for attending mass on the Nativity of Our Lord need not be filled at the Vigil mass. The Missal lists at least four masses that fill the obligation: the Vigil, at Dawn, in the morning, and during the day (or Midnight, 8am, 10am, and Noon).

Anonymous said...

Hasn't anyone heard of the feast of St. Lucy on Dec. 13? Our parish priest always said that it was considered proper to put the tree up on that day (or after that date). Not certain about the meaning of this saint regarding this, although in pictures she is always shown with a wreath of candles on her head (so, the lights of a Christmas tree are symbolic?)