This year, for the first time, I was unable to be with my family on Christmas Day. Spending Christmas by myself was not so bad, probably because I was not really alone, but I do not think it is the ideal way of spending the holiday
On Christmas Eve there were two celebrations of the Holy Eucharist at the Church of St Columba and All Hallows, where I am Priest in Charge; between the two masses I was very kindly invited home by parishionners who fed me with conversation, tea, and Christmas cake. The attendance was moderate, but the feeling was good, and gratifying remarks were made about my preaching. When all was over I got home at a good hour and tried to watch Alistair Sim as Scrooge on television until I had to go to bed, defeated by the commercial breaks.
On Christmas morning I went to St Matthias’, Bellwoods, for the Sung Mass of Christmas Day. As I was waiting for the streetcar I noticed a man who frequents my end of Queen Street; I give him something from time to time. It struck me that not to do something on Christmas day would be terribly shaming, so I crossed the street to wish him a merry Christmas with a small but useful gift. Mass was lovely, and Fr Kennedy preached a good sermon. Afterwards some friends asked if I had plans for Christmas Dinner, saying that I was most welcome; but by this point I had already thawed the game hen for my own dinner, and felt I had to decline. Moreover, I had been invited out for dinner on Boxing Day, and there was no danger of missing good fellowship!
Home again, I watched the Queen’s message and then napped. Then I cooked a Cornish game hen stuffed with olives following a recipe adapted from Apicius. While it was cooking I called my brother’s home in Ottawa to wish them a merry Christmas and spoke to my Mother. I was thankful that I was only separated by distance, and not estranged from family, as many are. Then after dinner and a quiet evening, I slept. Once or twice in one's life a quiet Christmas Day is a good idea. One should probably not make it a habit, however, for Christmas delights in fellowship. That is why the heart of the celebration is at Church.
On Boxing Day, I went to celebrate the 12:30 Eucharist at St James’ Cathedral. Despite the alternative date provided in the new Church Calendar, the Cathedral keeps St Stephen Protomartyr and the other feasts on the three days after Christmas Day. Many familiar folk were at this mass, including the Bishop of Toronto. (Whenever I see the bishop at a cathedral celebration, I am particularly glad to have remembered that I was on!) In the evening I went for dinner at the home of dear friends, and could not have wished a more festive evening.
So I passed the first days of the Christmas festival in 2008, and though I was often by myself, I was never alone.