Christmas Eve is always the highlight of the Christmas season for me. It's the part I look forward to and remember the most. I love sitting with my family in the vigil mass, surrounded by beautiful decorations, listening to beautiful music, and remembering what it is all about. It has become more special to me each year that I've had my children.
The first year that Kirsten came into our lives, we had to jump through a lot of hoops to have a legal right to "unsupervised visits" (which was really stupid since I was her teacher and was the one supervising her all day long... but that's another post). We were allowed to take her to our home for the first time on 12/23/04. From that day forward we began picking her up before 8 am each day and keeping her until 8 pm when she had to go to bed. (We were not allowed to keep her overnight at that time.) I will never forget taking her for a "church dress" that first Christmas Eve, holding her during the mass, and watching her wide eyes glow in wonder. Something happened to me during that mass. It was a moment that was bigger than me and one I can't really put into words.
It seems that our blessings multiply each year, and this mass is a time I always reflect and give thanks. This year was no different. I thought I might burst with pride (No, not when Matthew threw himself down in the center aisle of the chruch... not when I, literally, put my hand over Danny's mouth to hush him during the homily) when my little girl played the role of Mary during the gospel's reading.
When I was in second grade, my teacher announced that someone from our class would be crowning Mary during a May service. She explained that she would draw a name from a hat that evening. I'm pretty sure I'm the only child who couldn't sleep that night. The anticipation I had over the announcement is indescribable. I raced to class the next morning and immediately asked Mrs. Volker who she had chosen. I remember her hesitating and answering that she drew Andrea L's name. I also remember my eyes burning with hot tears. It was one of those moments of true, childhood raw emotion. I was heartbroken. Within seconds Mrs. Volker suggested that I could help Andrea... there was no reason that two of us couldn't walk down the aisle. (She was a good woman :) Then, I somehow convinced Andrea to carry the roses but to let me place the crown of flowers on the statue's head. (I don't think she really cared... but I sure did!) It was a moment that I'll never forget.
That's how I felt at the vigil mass. I doubt it was as important to Kirsten as it was to me, but I am grateful for the beauty of the moment.
Kirsten was reverent, graceful, and beautiful. I was grateful to be so blessed.