I have been a slack blogger. Forgive me. I have recently learned of some wee fans of Ezra (Hi Kara!) who make frequent requests to see his likeness, and I do not want to disappoint. From henceforth I hope to resume some modicum of frequent, short blog posts.
For now, at long last, here follows what Ezra did for Christmas…
Then some dear friends came over on Christmas Eve night and basically made Christmas for us, bringing a lovely spread of appetizers and cooking delicious oyster stew (with local Chesapeake Bay oysters). Oyster stew is new to me, but a traditional Christmas Eve dish. It was a perfect way to start the season. Preston and I made Ensalada de Noche Buena, a dish that is served in Mexico, exclusively on Christmas Eve (at least, that is what my liturgical cookbook tells me). It is basically a fruit and vegetable salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and peanuts. I think we will make it an annual culinary tradition, as it was tasty, easy to prepare and lovely to behold, what with all the festive, colorful fruits and vegetables. (Slideshow has bonus repeat pictures because I couldn’t make them go away.)
Then we headed to church for midnight mass. I was concerned how Ezra would take it. For his sake, of course, but also because Christmas Eve mass is very important to me, and it would have been a bummer to spend it in the nursery. But Ez had snoozed through every Advent sunday in his carseat, and we hoped this service would follow suit. However, this was our first time attempting church at 11 pm, and at this stage in Ezra’s development, the hours when adults wanted to go to bed were the hours when baby wanted to cry. He was awake, unhappy and hungry when we arrived at church, so I nursed him (in a meeting room). At five minutes to 11 I thought, “I will never make it to church.” He was still crying a bit when it was time for church to start, but I wanted to hear the first hymn, so I wandered in that direction, expecting to retreat back to the common room immediately. But no, as soon as we walked toward the church his little body relaxed on my shoulder. We made it inside for the second verse of “Once in Royal David’s City,” and he slept in heavenly peace for the whole service. MA-GI-CAL! This is a baby who loves church.
There is something incredible about holding a wee tiny babe while hearing about that first Christmas. It was my favorite Christmas Eve mass, and one I will never forget. I was in awe of the fragile human form God chose to come to us on Earth. And as the choir sang “Bethlehem Down,” I shed tears with Mary, who held the infant Jesus in her arms and would later see him crucified. I cried for mothers of martyrs everywhere. It is one thing to celebrate saints in the abstract, but when I started looking for saint names for my future child, I found myself wincing at the suffering they endured and the too-often tragic end to their lives. I want Ezra to grow to love and serve the Lord, but as his mother, I want him to be able to do so easily — ideally without any real pain or harm. I am not sure that is possible, but I pray he has many days of peace and more than a short while for dreaming.
Bethlehem Down, by Peter Warlock
“When he is King we will give him the Kings’ gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes,” said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.
Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight —
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.
When he is King they will clothe him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.
Here he has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.