#669 – Dick Bernard: Christmas Day 2012 Joyeux Noel

Recently, on one of my forays through the flotsam and jetsam of paper in my life, I came across some unused Christmas cards from days gone by.
These cards had text in French: “Joyeux Noel. Bonne et Heureuse Annee”, and all were from “Coll. Oratoire Saint-Joseph”, ca 1980s, the most recent 1991. It took little ‘sleuthing’ on my part to figure out this mystery. On my last trip to Montreal, in 1992, I had visited the magnificent Oratory of St. Joseph, and in the gift shop there saw these greeting cards for sale, and bought one of each. Then brought them home, and never used them.
I was going to use one of these cards this card, but then decided to wait until I could scan them for use in this blog. Doubtless they are all copyrighted, but I’m sure Brother Saint Andre Bessette, founder of the Oratory will understand. Here they are: Cards ca 1982002. There are 15 in all.
All Blessings at Christmas. Happy Holidays. All best wishes.
Christmas is a simple yet exceedingly complicated holiday in our western tradition. I happen to come from the Catholic tradition: shortly I’ll be ushering at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis; my roots are French-Canadian and German Catholic. I seem to recall that my Dad, in his only trip to his ancestral Quebec in 1982, visited the Oratory with me. And I went back to the Oratory on subsequent trips.
But Christmas is complex in our society.
This year, to my knowledge, the United States Postal Service marks every stamped piece of mail thus:
(click to enlarge)

The Postal Service had seven holiday stamps this year, including two Christian and two secular, and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Eid…all reflecting different traditions. I tried to get all seven varieties this year, but the last three were not in stock when I wanted to purchase them, probably some function of “supply and demand”.
Today, for youngsters of all ages, “Santa Claus” will dominate, though Santa won’t arrive at everyone’s doorstep.
Christmas is a complex time of year.
So, Merry Christmas, but keep a notion of the ideal we are noting today.
It comes well expressed as an addition to a friends Christmas letter received a couple of weeks ago, from a writing by Jay Cormier, as follows:
“He is never mentioned in Luke’s story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but he is the linchpin of the whole Christmas story. Were it not for him, Jesus would not have been born in a poor stable but in the Bethlehem Ramada.
He is the innkeeper who presumably refused a room to Joseph and Mary, forcing them to find shelter in a barn. All Luke says is that “there was no room for them in the inn.” Bur every Christmas pageant includes the innkeeper, often portrayed as a gruff old bir who cannot be bothered with a poor carpenter from the sticks and his young bride. Sometimes he is the harried host, overcome with the demands of running a hotel during a busy season. and once in a while, the innkeeper is a compassionate soul who sympathizes with these poor travelers and offers the only hospitality he can.
The innkeeper never realizes who he is turning away. It is a busy time: guests and customers need to be taken care of, and the place is filling up faster than he and his wife can keep up with. (Nothing personal, folks – it’s the busy season.)
We should not be too quick to ridicule: We’re all innkeepers when it comes to this Child. Things need to be taken care of, our lives fill up faster than we can cope. (Nothing personal, Jesus.)
The innkeeper’s plight is the challenge of Christmas: to make room in our homes and hearts for this Child, in the midst of the demanding commerce of our professions and careers, in the quiet desperation of our pain and anguish , at our kitchen table and in our classrooms, in our wallets and checkbooks, in our calendars and day planners; to make room for him both when he is welcome and when his presence is embarrassing and inconvenient.
Take a moment to remember that Christ comes in every guest who comes to your inn in every season of the new year. “

NOTE: My Christmas “card” this year remains here. Especially note the video accessible there.

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