I've had time off before around Christmas week or, in the past Thanksgiving week. I really enjoy being home sometime around the holidays. For some reason, I've enjoyed this break with a certain sense of peace and contentment. It certainly could be because on December 15th I received wonderful medical news from an angiogram procedure looking into what was really going on with my carotid artery. I did indeed prepare myself mentally for the possibility of some type of hospitalization near Christmas. Once reality set in that this would not be necessary, everything seemed to be very bright for the Christmas season.
Vacation came at the end of work on Thursday, December 22 and got really rolling when on Friday my daughter and I drove to the New Orleans Airport to pick up our son and his wife who live in the Greensboro, North Carolina area. As many of you know, it is always special when reunited with loved ones we just don't get to see that often. Their short stay with us, 4 and a half days, was delightful. Christmas Eve brought for me my first Christmas Mass as Deacon at Most Holy Trinity. I've already blogged about how amazing that experience was. I still can't get over the overflowing crowds of last Saturday night. Our Christmas Eve tradition, for many years now, includes spending time with our friends and neighbors, the Simons, who host one whale of a Christmas Eve party, complete with an always fun gift exchange game. My son and daughter-in-law came with us for the second time for them and they seem to enjoy the time as much as we do.
Christmas Day included a return trip to Most Holy Trinity for morning Mass and then I made a little impromptu visit to my old church, St. Jane, just to see the decorated sanctuary and to say hello to whatever friends and parishioners I would recognize(I've been gone from St. Jane's since last January 3rd). Our afternoon was spent hosting Christmas for those family members related to us from my side of the family. Amazing food, good presents and a nice time just catching up and visiting.
December 26th brings two big events in my life each and every year. It is the Feast Day of St. Stephen, deacon & martyr, who indeed is the patron Saint of our New Orleans diaconate community. Every year we gather to celebrate Mass and a dinner together. This year, because of the much anticipated Saints vs Falcons game in the city that evening, we decided to gather at 11 a.m. I joyfully made the trip to be with my brothers and enjoy another special St. Stephen's day. But Decemeber 26th will always be special for me for it is indeed the birthday of my dear wife Wendy. She always disappears by mid-morning for a day of shopping, manicures & pedicures and lunch. For this, I stay out of the way. That evening, we had a special dinner with the family, and joined by Wendy's sisters family, to celebrate her birthday. And what an extra bonus this year to be able to come home and watch the Saints destroy the Atlanta Falcons on national TV.
Tuesday was that bittersweet moment when James & Sara had to return home to Greensboro. I drove them to the airport and had a nice time with them as we drove the hour it takes to get to the airport from here. Did I mention, we left the house at 5:20 a.m.; that's o'dark thirty. I actually made it home by 8 a.m. Needless to say, that was it for me. The rest of the day I spent chilling and relaxing at home. How nice! Wednesday also started early with a 8 a.m. doctor's appointment, which went very well, and from there I ran errands, visited with good friends and even met a deacon candidate for coffee in the late afternoon.
Today was another great vacation day. I attended Mass at St. Jane's and sat in a pew; something I don't get to do very often. It was also very nice to visit over coffee with old friends from my home parish. The afternoon was spent with my daughter Elizabeth and Wendy at one of the best things New Orleans has to offer: the National World War II Museum, formerly known as the D Day Museum. This place is spectacular. It's so wonderfully done and gives such an amazing feel for what was going on during those horrible days of World War II. The museum does take about 3 hours to tour and has wonderful exhibits from both the European front, especially detailed around the D Day invasion, and the Pacific front, from Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the atomic bombs. Riveting! Breathtaking! And the movie shown at the Museum, Beyond All Borders, narrated by Tom Hanks, is a must see for every American. Our visit was just spectacular. And it was so nice to see New Orleans popping as Michigan and Virginia Tech fans are all over the place for the Sugar Bowl. Tonight, the three of us ate dinner together at a local Northshore restaraunt.
I have 4 days of vacation left. Friday is still up in the air but then we have New Years Eve and New Years Day. As Catholics, we will celebrating the Feast of Mary, Mother of God this weekend. For the secular in me, Wendy and I will enjoy the last night of 2011 with dear friends who have a great party and quite the fireworks display. New Years Day brings another big Saints game. And for lagniappe we are all off Monday, the 2nd, to celebrate the New Year's Bowl games and get an extra day of vacation.
So that's my Christmas vacation so far. Hope you enjoyed this little view into a small slice of my personal life. And please don't forget, this is still the Christmas season; it's o.k. to say Merry Christmas!
Monday Morning Offering - May 20
21 minutes ago