Early in my days of becoming an Episcopalian, I discovered the Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas begins at sunset on December 24 and lasts until January 5, the Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany (that’s when the Wise Ones show up). Just to make liturgical time even crazier, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, a quick thirty years passes, and it’s the Baptism of our Lord. But that’s another blog.
Back to the Twelve Days of Christmas. Where we still are. As soon as I learned about the twelve days long Christmas, I was smitten.
Not hurrying to get my Christmas decorations up and being able to enjoy them wholeheartedly into January. Check.
Having twelve extra days to get Christmas cards sent and packages delivered. Check.
Wearing blue intentionally before Christmas to dress as a harbinger of hope. Check.
And not so much now, but in earlier days doing Christmas shopping after December 25 and being able to purchase more for less.
Twelve more days to feast on Christmas carols and have time to really sit with what the Word made Flesh might actually mean. Love coming down at Christmas.
Today, on the fifth day of Christmas, I am on a plane with a checked bag full of Christmas gifts for my Bend family. My daughter in law’s birthday is the fourth day of Christmas and there is a big celebration planned this weekend. I’m in!
But first looking back.
I was all set to celebrate Christmas Eve Eucharist at San Estaban, a church plant in Santa Fe just outside Plum Grove. It’s largely a community of immigrants from Mexico and always a joy to serve alongside the lay church planter, Will Llana. He provides the words, I provide the hands. They meet in a community center, and the worship had to be cancelled because the center needed to be used to keep folks warm in the midst of the bitter winter weather. Somehow, that seemed fraught with Christmas love. There was room in the inn.
My Christmas gig cancelled, I now had so many choices of worship. I settled on my “home” church, Holy Family, unvested, unsermoned, sitting in a pew.
It was lovely.
When we sang How a Rose E’er Blooming, I thought with joy about the unexpected flowers that had surprised me that afternoon.
The first day of Christmas got to be a pajama day with calls and texts from people I love and that love me. Dinner was celebrated with dear friends with conversation and laughter. Not in pajamas.
The second day of Christmas was yet another lolling day, celebrated with extra joy knowing the third day of Christmas would also be a day to loll. For the second day in a row, I spent most of the day on the couch, bundled up, reading yet another mystery, my fireplace adding extra warmth.
The fourth day of Christmas was a day of wrapping and unwrapping presents, lunch with a friend, and packing and preparing for travel.
And now it’s the fifth day and I’m sitting in a snow covered Denver airport. It’s a bit jarring leaving Houston with the air conditioner on in my car, with suitcases stuffed full of layers of winter clothes.
This is my last twelve days of Christmas as a full time working priest. I have remembered and remembered and remembered again all the years of Christmas busy-ness with a smile hangover on Christmas Day from a marathon of worship. Music and candles and incense and people that fill my heart.
But this is my transition year.
And I have seven more days to celebrate Christmas.