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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Calendar - December 17 - Christmas Church Services

[Note: This post is a recollection from a series of Advent Calendar posts which were originally part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted here atDestination: Austin Family in December 2007 with the assistance of the wonderful Jasia at Creative Gene.]

Church, Church and More Church

I grew up attending the church where my parents were married - St. Peter's Catholic Church in Liberty, New York. I have early memories of attending Midnight Mass but not Christmas Day services - only Christmas Eve was considered a Holy Day of Obligation.

I loved all the pageantry involved: the singing of Christmas carols before the procession began, the decorations, the telling of the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke, and the smell of incense.

After I left for college and moved to San Francisco, I really didn't attend church again until 1991. For the next 10 years I would participate in a variety of different services at a variety of churches. All of these were of Protestant faiths which, while not a problem for my mother, would have had my ancestors spinning in their graves and saying novenas on my behalf. 

Most of my participation at these churches was behind the scenes - friends called me "The Church Lady" because not only did I know all the practices and little details of holding a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service, but I was able to organize the entire production.

Typically we would have three services on Christmas Eve: a children's service at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve with a pageant. Then a 7:00 pm service for those who could not attend (i.e., stay up for) the 12:00 am service. For years it meant being at church from 3:00 pm until after 1:00 am the next morning - and made for an exhausting Christmas Eve since there was also a 10:00 am service on Christmas Day.

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