Christmas – What Child Is This?

What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?

I can answer the song’s question, since I have personally clasped the child in my hand.

Mary’s child has a shock of brown hair and, with eyes closed, is clearly sleeping. I like his snug blue coat with the collar protecting his chest. I delight in the hint of tummy above the clean white sheet warming his legs and feet. He’s fair-skinned, sports a pug nose and—like infants often do—his tiny, tiny fists are closed tight while he slumbers.

See . . . I know what child this is.

It’s baby Jesus in ceramic form, hand-painted by my mother, given to my wife and me on our first married (and merry) Christmas together. Thus, I’m confident of how old Jesus is: he turned thirty-four this year. Thus, I’m confident of what he wore—and always wears—to keep cozy in the hay: a cute blue jacket. Thus, though I’m less confident the “angels greet with anthems sweet,” I can prove Mom did make Baby Jesus. Her initials—a slightly uneven FP—were marked on the hollow backside of the baby. Continue reading →

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Advent 4 – The Fudge of Christmas Past

Mary’s Magnificat reminded us that God “has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:6-55.)

However, long before I could understand those words, it was my Aunt Jean who filled the hungry. In other words, filled me. On this fourth Sunday of Advent, with Mary’s song launched at hearts with the sharp spear of hope, my memories wander to my Aunt Jean’s Christmas confections.

Which is to say, the fudge of Christmas past. Continue reading →

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Advent 3 – The Cadillac in the Driveway

The largest trunk in the known universe . . .

The light was dwindling as the late December day ended. Above, the first stars welcomed the beginnings of another long winter night. Oh, how cold it seemed in the California suburb where I then lived. (For it would be years in the future when living in a Wisconsin zip code that I understood the huge difference between a coolish night and teeth-chattering cooooold.)

Still, I shivered and waited outside.

My grandparents’ 1952 Cadillac had just arrived. It was black like the night, with a backseat as big as a sofa. Its engine purred like an eager lion and the headlights could illuminate the world. The four-door luxury sedan had journeyed across the center of the state to arrive at my house.

As I watched my grandfather cautiously back the Cadillac up to our open garage door, I never once questioned why he hadn’t merely turned left into the driveway to easily park the car in front of the house. Continue reading →

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