On parking lot in Valley Gardens in 2005, the worse Christmas rush since working at 15 left me with emotions so toxic, I stopped my car in an empty lot to cry. I cried so hard, I nearly vomited. I had soldiered on through anxious customers, an existential crisis, and dealing with a host of issues in therapy. That’s only a start.
I was done.
I couldn’t face going to Midnight Mass at the time, but I dried my eyes to somehow drag my ass to one of the balconies flanking the sanctuary at my old parish. My prayer was the same Dear God, I am so done and so angry, and I can’t solve this on my own. Leaving mass in the wee hours of Christmas morning, I felt a smidge lighter but bone-tired. Turns out, that Christmas rush was a turning point. Two years later I went to Red River to get my Library Tech training, one change in a host of others since that night. A day like that should turn me into a cynic. It didn’t. If anything it showed me compassion takes vigilance.
I have not attended a Christmas mass in five years. I had a parish picked out but instead decided not at the moment. If someone asked what faith tradition I practice, I would still answer ‘catholic.’ The small ‘c’ is not a typo. To have the big one, according to one guy I met, I must have my conscious in line with Rome.
To that, I answer, no thanks.
I still do the Rosary on occasion and keep up with the news about Pope Francis. My bedroom has statues passed down from my grandmother, and my favourite pieces of jewelry are necklaces with St. Jude and St. Teresa of Avila, my two favorites. As for the other stuff, I have huge problems, and I am not alone. I support LGBT* issues, a woman’s right to her own body, heck it’s my body too, please stay out of it. I also want the Catholic Church to apologize to Indigenous peoples for the road to hell their ‘good intentions’ created with each residential school they ran. The rest falls under the label cafeteria Catholic. Time to wear it with pride.
Alright, then. Here’s today’s special.
Today’s special at the Cafeteria Catholic is a huge helping of generosity, with a large side dish of empathy, with a dollop of compassion. Please hold the stupid and substitute that with discernment. Oh, I find it best to serve snark and sass on the side, you never know if you might need those condiments.
In Love Actually, one of
Rick Grimes Mark the wedding photographer’s cue cards read at Christmas you tell the truth. It’s good advice as opposed to the context of that entire scene. (That’s a future post if I get around to it.) When I say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ (I use both) I mean the following:
No matter what faith you practice, may you enjoy your time off with your family, no matter how you define it. May you rest up, eat up, and drink up. If you’re a student, put aside the required reading and read something you like. May love guide you, hope keep you, and may you shoulder whatever the next year throws at you.
Of course, just saying have yourself a merry little Christmas works too.