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Loving Your Family First

alec vanderboom

Conversion Diary Jen called me today to wish me a Happy Birthday. She asked me about my Christmas. I said going to church on Christmas Eve was reverent and beautiful.

But by 10 AM on Christmas morning I was in tears because the day was so crummy. The kids got too many presents from their grandparents. They became agitated, started fighting with one another, and demanded immediate assistance to assemble all their barrage of gifts. I mediated fights between my father and my brother over differing film criticism of "Lawrence of Arabia". All I wanted to do was take my sweet future nun back to church on Christmas but that became impossible because it didn't fit the agenda of the day.

So I didn't go to church. I didn't feed a hot Christmas dinner to the homeless. I didn't sing Christmas carols to the elderly in my late grandfather's nursing home. I didn't pray my Daily Office.

Jen agreed that when you celebrate Christmas day with family that are not really practicing Christians, you need to make sacrifices. The day is more materialistic than you'd like. It's a day more about penance rather ran "refreshment in the Spirit."

During my Christmas morning whine about missing church and missing serving the poor with Jesus, I felt him laughing at me. "Forget about spending long hours in prayer in front of the manger scene, this is how I want you to spend my day--being extra unselfish." He sort of told me in my heart that I can't go out and spread love to strangers on Christmas Day until my own extended family is fully saturated with the love of Christ. Otherwise helping the homeless is a selfish means of escaping on Christmas Day rather than a true act of charity.

So after the sun went down on Christmas Day, I turned off the replay of the Papal Mass on EWTN that I'd longed to see all day and instead, accompanied my siblings and my children and my husband to see the movie Tron. (Bad sci-fi is real penance!) I think my heart made the right call.