by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer, MMM USA 29.12.2021
Having celebrated Christmas in Ireland, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, how can I think of something special peculiar to the United States. There is a basic longing in our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Mother Mary knew this through and through and lived that longing for many years. It was part of her, and she radiated that Presence to all of us who knew her and those who followed through her letters and the stories we keep alive in our hearts.
Perhaps, that is the answer. We all have stories and here in the USA we like to celebrate the birth of Jesus with big expectations. We make an Advent wreath from evergreen branches. The smell of the newly cut branches reaches an intoxication level to the newness we are anticipating with the birth of Jesus, a chance to welcome Him into our hearts to live His life anew. Four candles are placed inside the wreath, three purple and one pink. Each night before supper, we gather at the table and light the candles according to the 4 weeks before Christmas. A prayer of hope and joy is read, and we all respond, “Amen.” The Advent wreath is also found in all our Churches and sometimes a special family is signaled out to light the candles.
We have the custom of KRIS KRINGLE in that each Sister is given a name of one of the Sisters in the Boston Community, to pray for and give a small gift. It is a delight to open them. One evening is set aside to watch the DVD, “The Nativity Story. It is very simply told, and one can just imagine the reality of the suffering of Mary and Joseph in those troubled times. Yet Love prevails.
Our circle of friends from Medford asks each one of us what we would like for Christmas and come a few days before with an abundance of lovely gifts. Unfortunately, since the pandemic we have been unable to invite them for an afternoon of prayer and reflection followed by refreshments and a good chat. We are very much aware of our 10 Sisters in various assisted living facilities and try to include and visit them as much as possible to share out Christmas Joy.
Our house is beautifully decorated. For some years now we take out a small artificial tree as a real one is difficult to manage. The decorated balls are attached to the tree with ease and delight. Small multicolored lights are entwined around the tree and glisten beautifully in the darkness. One evening is set aside to watch the DVD, “The Nativity Story. It is very simply told, and one can just imagine the reality of the suffering of Mary and Joseph in those troubled times. Yet Love prevails.
Yes, the darkness and stillness are inviting us to remember the heavens opened and dropped down the Savior. Such a beautiful metaphor for the Virgin Birth in a stable. For some years now, many parishes celebrate midnight Mass at 8PM and as one ages this time is more appreciated. We are fortunate to be able to attend our parish Church because last year we watched Christmas Mass on television because of the Pandemic.
Christmas morning begins with hugging and wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Some Sisters cook the turkey dinner and bake apple pies. We attend Mass at the Parish at various times and soon welcome our guests with a glass of wine before dinner around 1PM. We are happy when Sr. Bernie Kenny can visit us from Clinchco, VA. This Christmas will be special because it is the first time in a long time that we are only one house and one community in the USA. We welcomed three new Sisters to Somerville House and eagerly await their joyful contributions to our celebrations. After dinner we have a short prayer service and open our presents together. This leads us to the evening news after 6PM. We are shown parts of the Christmas Mass in Rome and celebrations in other countries. We are very united with all of you, our MMM family, in our Holy Longing.