Christmas E = mc2

Because it’s all about the relatives!

Actually I wanted to write about some memorable Midnight Mass stories. As Catholics we sometimes had a few options, such as going to Mass at 5:30 PM Saturday evenings instead of Sunday mornings, and of course, Christmas Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

One time we were preparing to go to church during a major snowstorm. During the evening a cross country skier went by across the street at the edge of Penn Park. By the time we walked the one and a half blocks to the church there were 9” of snow. Of course we still went, and the snow was deeper after.

Another great and quite visceral memory is from another Midnight Mass one year when my church decided to take a page from the medieval church, playbook, and present theatrically at the front of the church scenes of the arrival of Jesus.

I believe that the first was the annunciation, the appearance of the angel to Mary. The church was completely dark, except for some candlelight. Suddenly a spotlight clicked on, illuminating two children at the railing, one dressed as Mary kneeling in prayer, and the other standing on the railing, arms outstretched, playing the Angel. Judging from what happened minutes later, I assume the Angel was the one with stage fright. When the spotlight clicked off and we were again plunged into darkness, we heard the sound of retching, and then of vomit splattering on the marble floor. It sounded as if it was traveling from several feet up, so that’s why I suspect the Angel. That’s a sound that has lived with me ever since.

In another podcast, I have done the imitation of the priest whose dentures did not quite fit, and as he gave communion and repeated “body of Christ” repeatedly he whistled with each ST sound. That was the same Mass when the music Director decided to present traditional Christmas hymns but with rewritten melodies. People tried to sing along and suddenly found themselves discordant, because the melodies being played by the brass were completely different from the norm. It was quite jarring.

Midnight Masses really did embody the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic Church. It seems funny to me that I, as a fallen away Catholic, every Christmas think to myself very briefly, hey, maybe I should go to one. But I’ve been successful for many years in successfully resisting that urge.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Published by stephenschrum

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts; interested in virtual worlds, playwrighting, and filmmaking. Now creating a podcast called "Audio Chimera."

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