I probably won't post tomorrow so...
Christmas Eve! I have a short list of tasks to do today. Finish making a handmade gift that's almost done, wrap a couple of remaining gifts, bake two apple pies, and cook dinner.
For the first time in the 20 years I have lived in Castleton, I am going to be able to go to mass at Sacred Heart Church on Christmas Eve. The reason is that although we are going to Samsonville tomorrow (and then back here the day after), this year Bob decided to work today and instead of being on the road, we are traveling to Long Island to visit his family over the weekend. Usually, I go to mass for Christmas wherever I am - so that might be a church I have never stepped foot in before, or occasionally, to St. Augustine's, where I went as a kid, and where I go when I am in Samsonville. But since I prefer to go on Christmas Eve, usually I am either in Long Island, or we make a mad dash to be back in Samsonville by midnight, and I scramble to find a midnight mass somewhere (Occasionally, I go to St. Augustine's on Christmas morning - but usually they only have a 6 pm mass on Christmas Eve which I miss).
So I am so excited!! I don't consider myself "devout" exactly - although I do go to church every Sunday and it means a lot to me. I consider religion to be a private matter, and I rarely talk about my faith, or the beliefs of others. I don't judge or disrespect. However, I am turned off by what I consider to be the excessively materialistic focus of this holiday. It's hard to not judge or disrespect consumerism as God. Even movies that people consider Christmas classics such as Miracle on 34th Street have an offensively material message - yet pretend to be reverent.
Full disclosure: I am pretty anti-consumerist as it is. Separate from any religious discussion, I tell my students in Toleration class that a test of my tolerance is materialism. I disapprove of it, but I believe people have a right to that lifestyle if they want and so I must tolerate it. It is a good example for Toleration because students often get stuck by the idea that toleration does not equal celebrating diversity and that idea bothers them. I think this is because toleration has religious roots, and now is viewed as a sort of cultural/social concept. So my anti-material viewpoint is appealing to students and sparks them to consider that there are still many things in society that we may not like but should tolerate, although we do not have to "celebrate" them.
Anyway, back to Christmas Eve. Some years I am worn out, and go into the traveling and gift wrapping exhausted. It all seems like just one more chore. Oh, I still enjoy seeing family and going to church, but overall, the season doesn't do a lot for me. But this year is different. I got some rest. And I am psyched to go to mass here. The snow, the very modest but carefully selected gifts I bought, the lovely trees (I'll put up a picture of both after the holiday - we have a fresh cut one from the local boy scouts in Castleton, and a cedar from our yard in Samsonville), the wonderful cards (not a huge number, just enough for me to be able to exchange without it being an enormous task), the anticipation of seeing family, and most of all - Christmas Eve mass at Sacred Heart Church. It is really making Christmas extra special for me this year.
Those comments from my students helped too. I got two emails, by the way, from an A- student and a C- student, demanding a breakdown (which I always send, but I like to take a few days off, and wait until late in the month or early next month).