Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last night in the wee hours as I lay awake, Sean began to cry. Before I could attend to him, a quiet voice beside me hushed him. Michael's soothing,"ssshhh, you're OK," made his little world peaceful again. And it made me fall in love with my husband all over again. **sigh** it is the little things that make life grand.

I have had an earache for a few days now. I decided I needed to go to get it checked. My regular physician had nothing available and neither did his associates. So I dragged myself to a doc in the box. I knew I would have a long wait. But I did not expect the recommendations of the doctor. A younger man walked in. He did not even have the courtesy to introduce himself or shake my hand. He asked about my ear pain and any related symptoms. He then looked in my ears and briefly at my throat. After pressing on my sinus cavity and lymph nodes he proceeded to tell me that he needed blood work and an x-ray of my head to properly diagnose a sinus infection. First, all I came in to find out was if I had an ear infection. Second, he had already confirmed there was not one, only pressure behind my eardrum, probably from a sinus infection since I do have a post nasal drip. This is plausible because I am highly susceptible to sinus issues. I promptly told him I would not be having an x-ray nor blood work taken. He was quite taken aback that I would not go through with his orders. I asked what else could be done. He said I could have a cortisone shot and treat it like a cold. Then he promptly walked out without any further explanation. The nurse came in with the shot to the hip and a script for a decongestant that was never discussed by the doctor to me. I feel sorry for those people who do not have a family practitioner and those like me who couldn't get an appointment. These so called doctors need to learn bedside manner, courtesy and that the blanket effect is not always welcome or needed.

Christmas Eve is here. It caught up to me fast. I did not make half the posts about Advent that I had desired. My children are all excited. We will make cookies today, go to an evening Mass (I can't wait till they appreciate the midnight Mass), have a late feast and prepare for Santa. It is so wonderful to see them excited about visiting their cousins for a week and having dinner with the grandparents. They have been pretending with the manger scene. That reminds me that I have to make Jesus a birthday cake today.

So here is a bit on the Twelve Days of Christmas that few actually know. It is not as the Disney Channel proclaims, the twelve days leading up to Christmas. It begins on Christmas day and lasts into the new year.

This (Christmas) season lasts from Vespers of 24 December to 13 January (the Octave of the Epiphany) inclusive. As it's the celebration of Christ's Incarnation, the mood is of humble, grateful, joyous celebratration. The Feast of Christmas lasts 12 days ("The Twelve Days of Christmas"). The season lasts 19 days in terms of liturgical calculations. But Christmas as a spiritual season doesn't end truly until Candlemas on 2 February.

This, not Advent, is the true Christmas Season. As most people in secular or Protestantized countries are putting away "Christmas-y" things, and as shopping malls stop blaring "Here Comes Santa Claus," Catholics are just getting started. The cleaning and baking during penitential Advent pays off now, and the feasting and caroling begin!

The entire Christmas Cycle is a crescendo of Christ's manifesting Himself as God and King -- to the shepherds, to the Magi, at His Baptism, to Simeon and the prophetess, Anna (Luke 2). The days from the Feast of the Nativity to the Epiphany are known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas," with Christmas itself being the first day, and Twelfthnight -- 5 January -- being the last of the twelve days. Christmastide liturgically ends on 13 January, the Octave of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ (at which time the season of Time After Epiphany begins). But Christmas doesn't end spiritually -- i.e., the celebration of the events of Christ's life as a child don't end, and the great Christmas Cycle doesn't end -- until Candlemas on 2 February and the beginning of the Season of Septuagesima.

In this way, just as From Ash Wednesday on, we commemorate Christ in the desert for forty days, and just as after Easter we celebrate for forty days until the Ascension, after Christmas we celebrate the Child Jesus for forty days -- all through the season of Time After Epiphany -- until Candlemas. The schema of those Christ Child celebrations looks like this:


Christ is born
Feast of the Holy Innocents
Herod slaughters the baby boys in order to kill the Christ Child
The Circumcision (the Octave of Christmas)

Jesus follows the Law
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

After He is circumcised, He is named and becomes a part of the Holy Family
Twelfth Night

The Twelve Days of Christmas as a Feast come to an end
Feast of the Epiphany

Jesus reveals His divinity to the three Magi, and during His Baptism, and at the wedding at Cana Baptism of Our Lord/Octave of the Epiphany
Christmas liturgically ends with the Octave of the Epiphany.
Feast of the Holy Family

Jesus condescends to be subject to His parents
Feast of the Purification (Candlemas)

40 days after giving birth, Mary goes to the Temple to be purified and to "redeem" Jesus per the Old Testament Law of the firstborn. Christmas truly ends as a Season with Candlemas and the beginning of Septuagesima.

May all my readers and their families be blessed this last night of Advent as we prepare for the celebration of our Saviour's birth.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Jack asked when the party was. When I asked what party he was talking about he said " the Baby Jesus birthday party." Sweet.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Hope to see you when we are back in town.