missing my Catholic Christmas

I have a confession to make.

At Christmas, I miss my devout Catholic past. I miss placing the divine baby in the cold dry straw of the manger my father built, of the profound connection I felt to the absolute truth of the day as I knew it. (A good story gets you that way, and as an adoptee who was brought to her first real home just before Christmas, the largely unappreciated and anonymous baby in the manger had real resonance.)

I miss the comfort the little lights in the manger brought me, as I tried to imagine where the Wise Men were, placing one figurine due north, finding the star. I miss singing the songs in between masses, Gaetani Sunday and its pink robes and candle in the advent wreath, the hope in the dark, divinity in the mundane that is at the core of the day.

Since my departure from the church, where the only wholly good, universally celebrated woman is a mother who has never seen or touched a man, I have connected to actions and efforts that bring comfort to the afflicted, regardless of their faith. But as we put up our tree and tested lightstrings, I remarked to H how Christmas left me feeling sad now, of how I saw so many more than one child of God in the world, many of which would love to have a bed of straw instead of the places they found themselves, with or without a parent’s help.

He suggests, in his ever pragmatic way, that Christmas can be about family tradition, but I’m not so sure. I don’t think my son would connect to a creche in the same way as Mama, but explaining the time of year as the lesson of finding the divine in plain sight is a bit abstract for a 3 year old. Maybe next year.

In the meantime, I sit in the glow of the tree, and think about Emerson’s Oversoul, and tiny tots with their eyes all aglow, hoping against hope that Santa knows where they live.


Filed under adoption, agnostic, catholic, children, Christmas, guilt, hope, kindness, Love, meaning of Christmas, recovering catholic, women

2 responses to “missing my Catholic Christmas

  1. ladonnamobile

    When I lived in Italy, I was impressed with the Italian way of dealing with Catholic ceremonies; most Italian athiests, agnostics, or those who had joined other churches still went to midnight mass, still baptized their infants at the local parish, etc. out of a sense of cultural pride, not belief.

    Whenever I asked them *why* (because in our culture, once you lose the faith, you leave the church) my Italian friends said, “Even if I don’t believe, I keep to our traditions. If my great grandmother was baptized here, I’m not going to break generations of traditions just because I no longer believe!”

    So I say: indulge whatever nostalgic inclinations you experience. Like my Jewish friends who put up a Christmas tree every year (not to worship Christ, but to enjoy an American social custom they find quite fun), enjoy every tradition, ritual, or family event regardless of the participants’ creeds! :)

  2. Thanks for your post. It reminded me of having to place a piece of straw in our manger every time we did a good deed for Mom, Dad, sister or brother.

    We were told that this would be a symbol of warmth for when Jesus actually returned.

    I’ve had my difficulties with the Catholic church, but in the end, I’ve never found a viable alternative.

    But regardless I’m a firm believer in the Rule of St. Benedict. Raise them where your planted.

    There’s a purpose where you are spiritually, intellectually, financially and socially.

    Blessings to you & yours.

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