The Prodigal Child at Christmas


It is Christmas Day, several days early in my family…I think this year there will be only one person missing.  Like in the bible story, the prodigal son or daughter is special for not being there.  After many years the prodigal child returns and the entire village turns out to greet the child.  Almost seems like there might be merit to being away.

That will not be happening this year, but there is always next year.  But for those of us who are counting the end of life years, we hope for a quicker resolution to life’s issues.

Tonight is a special night in our family.  I usually come to the clan dinner with the traditional French Canadian meat pies.  My sisters bring a meat spread, and a niece always brings a dip that was created by my mother.  There are custard pies, cakes, and chocolate cream pies and toll house cookies that are usually decimated before dinner.

Then the presents.  Everyone buys for everyone and then there is a game of swapping gifts that ends up with two folks tearing at one gift and everyone watches like it was Gillette’s Night at the fights.

But it is all in good fun…and since our family has loved Christmas for generations, it is so easy to fall into the rhythm of this holiday.  I love Christmas but I did have an insight this year that might help me in years to come.  I can not stand any aspect of Christmas before the twelfth or the fifteenth of December.  But once the darkest days of winter begin to settle in, I get a shock to my Christmas Spirit and the jolt rocks me into a whirl of activities…decorating, cooking, shopping and the beautiful traditional Carols that are really a part of the church music going back to the 15th century.

This year my partner and I are doing our third year of a new Christmas Eve tradition.  We will be at the midnight mass in St. Augustine, Florida.  We will have arrived at our home earlier on Christmas Eve day.  There will be time for a nap, some unpacking, reservations for a great dinner in town and the beautiful Gregorian Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine.  The first church on this continent began some five hundred years ago….Very little on our continent has that longevity.

Be they old traditions, or new young traditions, Christmas begs to be a holiday that is remembered for their similarities through time.  I listened earlier today to Dylan Thomas reading, “A Child’s Christmas in Whales.” I have been doing this  since the late sixties…not French Canadian, but an ethnic reminder that christmas is a cross-cultural event.

Merry Christmas and to all the prodigal children out there–try to be home for Christmas next year. When you are older you will be glad to you have a tradition to rely on….

P.S.  If you have 19 minutes to be treated to one of Christmas’s rare and stunningly simple pieces of happy poetry.  Click on the link below:

The Great Bell Chant


Spiritual awakening is not something that happens only once, just before

we begin the rest of our life…it has to consciously be

made to happen many times and over and over again…

it can begin with bumping into a moment of beauty, like

this incredible tree displaying a last burst of color before winter.


Or we can make it happen by developing a practice of listening to a bell and letting the fading sound draw us for a moment into the stillness.  For some an alone stroll by the sea-shore is enough to induce the moment…  I have found that my meditation is greatly enhanced if I am listening to a chant.  Perhaps in time the absolute silence will be the greater gift, but for now, I like to hear the great bells and gongs of the ancient worlds.

The Url below should bring you to the Great Bell Chant, a

soft, very slow admission of quiet into a few moments of our life: