Saturday, December 23, 2006
I awoke to the ringing of my windup Westclox. Another early morning getting ready to go out in the cold to do what I had done many times since third grade. Now in fifth grade I was getting restless and inattentive and felt drawn into an existence of repetitive nature.
That existence was the realm of the altar boy, the attendant to the Priest during Catholic mass.
I looked at the thermometer, it read 30 degrees, below zero and it was not even dawn.
Walking at 5:30 AM in that cold, made the snow squeak under my shoes as I walked to the church, steam locomotives on the other side of town sounded so loud, like they were coming right down the street. My breath clouding my vision, not a person anywhere to be seen as I squeak my way along.
Arriving at the church I heaved the side entrance door open to warmth once again.
I looked around the church and it was silent, votive candles flickering light from the very back.
The main door opened and several people came in, I scooted back to the vestibule and waited. Soon the bell ringer would show up to ring the church bell signaling that services would commence soon.
My partner Dave came in stomping the snow off his shoes, we had done this many times before and we knew the drill. Don the cossacks that altar boys wore and the foo foo white shirt, after trying on several we found ones that fit.
The priest showed up and walked through without comment. The church was filling up rapidly. After getting the cruets filled with water and wine and set out, we were ready for Mass.
This is where it got real boring, repeating Latin following the priests lead, yawning begins, followed closely by fidgeting and squirming, numerous stand-kneel-stand-kneel movements and finally after Communion, the whole thing was over and we all left the altar.
The priest thanked us and we left to return to the cold of the Minnesota winter. By now the Sun was rising and the real picture of the cold was painted, smoke rising from many before invisible chimneys and the sound of car tires squeaking on the snow leaving the early morning mass on that Christmas day.
I returned to my house, chilled but encouraged, I saw presents under the tree and mom was in the kitchen frying Christmas Sausage, Dad was reading the paper. How did mass go? mom asked, fine I said, can we open presents now? Soon she said, soon.
Seemed like I had been awake a very long time, Santa had come and gone without a trace except for the packages left under the tree. Actually I had long ago realized the Santa ruse was over but played along anyway. The smell of the Christmas Sausage fully engulfed the house top to bottom with it's delicious odor, I had forgotten about the presents, those thoughts were replaced by hunger. Breakfast was served, presents can wait for now.
Merry Christmas to one and all!!! Peace on Earth!!!