I remember the story, only through the ritual of retelling that happens in our family.
I did NOT like the Christmas story.
One Sunday afternoon, my parents told me they had a surprise. Bundled in my new snowsuit, we went outside into a chilling wind blowing off Lake Michigan, swirling with thick, beautiful snowflakes.
The walk was short. Climbing stone steps, Daddy opened huge, glossy, wooden doors. Entering the vestibule, Daddy clapped his leather gloves together, put them in his heavy tweed coat and flicked melting snow from his wool derby. Mother stomped her feet on the rubber mat and urged me to do the same.
We walked through mottled colors spreading from stained glass while light from hundreds of vigil lights danced on gray stone walls. Daddy spotted Monsignor McGuire who joined us. They gestured to each other and carried on in hearty whispers.
I spotted lambs first. Closest to my size, these white woolly creatures were forever frozen in time. Glittering gold caught my attention as dozens of angels hung in flight above the stable.
I saw the baby! It only had a diaper! If God was so great, and angels were dressed in gold, seemed to me God was pretty stingy with Jesus. That baby must be freezing. I did not like the way this story was going!
Bolting from my parents, scrambling around the Communion rail and right to the manger, I wrapped the baby in my blanket. Somewhere in the background, my mother gasped. When I stood back to survey my work, I was startled. My “blankie” was no longer an appendage to my body. I had given away my dearest treasure and there was no taking it back!
The story goes that the pastor left my “blankie” there, in the splendor of that baroque setting during the whole Christmas and Epiphany season. The kindness of the man who was not terrified that a small worn blanket would ruin the ambiance of the scene has been passed on to me. It remains with me because it is the way I would like to pastor; to take each fragile moment of a person’s story and be able to react to it in a nurturing and caring way.
Pat Pickett, OblSB