Sodality White Elephant Gift Exchange
Dear members and friends of the Sodality of Charity,
On Friday, November 11, some of the men of our parish arranged St. Martin’s day procession with St. Martin riding a real horse. The attendants carried lanterns to illuminate the dark and cold night, and some of our Sodalists joined the procession, bringing light into darkness. You can read more of this beautiful Catholic tradition and see pictures of it on our website.
The next day, on the feast of Pope St. Martin, we saw the first snow of the season. The sight of the beautiful snow was something to behold. Last year I put together a collection of some of my favorite Christmas-time stories for the Sodality, and one of the stories there was H.C. Andersen’s The Little Match Girl from 1845. It tells about a girl selling matches on a New Year’s Eve, shivering in cold amid the beautiful snow. As with so many of the stories by Andersen, it is beautifully mixed with sadness and happiness.
I will start my own book publishing apostolate next year, and that story collection book, titled The Gift of the Wise Men, is now on the closeout sale of my books, profits of which go to support our Oblate Sisters.
Little trivia: one of the famous “lost media” of American television is the adaptation of The Little Match Girl which was made for Cincinnati’s TV station WLWT in 1974. It was filmed in Cincinnati and is a modern adaptation of the story, and changes the story to take place on Christmas Eve. There’s only a quite low-quality recording available on YouTube, but the story is told very well, if you want to check it out. It lasts about 20 minutes.
We had the Sodality Thanksgiving celebration at our monthly meeting on November 19. Everyone enjoyed making shrines, and one of the Sodalists kindly donated her shrine to me. At lunch we had turkey sandwiches and since there were plenty of them, everyone and their brother got turkey. Cake was also served, because it was Sr. Eulalia’s birthday. Turkey, flatbread pizza, chips, and cake, that’s a recipe for a successful monthly meeting lunch. Plus our volunteer Sodalists always provide such plentiful and delicious breakfast only couple of hours before our lunch. I like to tell the new Sodality candidates that hopefully they like the activities our group offers, and if they don’t, at least they eat well!
Bishop McGuire hosted the annual All Saints children party for the first time on October 30, the feast of Christ the King. There were so many little saints this year, that he didn’t have time to say the 11:30 AM Mass as he had planned, but fortunately we had foreseen this possibility and I was able to jump in and say the Mass while the Bishop and Fr. McKenna finished the party. Some of the saints the children had picked were so obscure that even Bishop Dolan wouldn’t have got them all, but it seems the little saints did not want to let the new Bishop get off that easily from his first All Saints party. But with the record attendance and our Oblate Sisters as judges, this wonderful tradition of St. Gertrude the Great is also guaranteed to continue, together with other old and new gertrudian traditions.
One of these newer traditions is our Sodality’s St. Lucia procession, which is fast approaching. In October we had our Fall Festival, which the parishioners enjoyed very much, and on Gaudete Sunday, December 11, the Sodality will arrange Lucia procession for the third time, making once again our group known among the parishioners. In Sweden the Lucia feast has been called “Little Christmas” (lille jul in Swedish), and besides telling the story of a great saint, it has been celebrated as the feast when light defeats darkness. This year has once again been filled with bad news, and that’s why our faithful, especially the young ones, need these kinds of little traditions to point out to them, that light will defeat darkness, and good will gain victory over evil.
Of course all Catholics, young and old, are obliged to remember December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I think that as evil and immoral as the modern world is, we should never neglect to remember, that in Our Lady, sweetness, innocence, modesty and goodness have triumphed, and these will also triumph forever. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is also as important day to pray for our country as is Independence Day.
Our December monthly meeting will be on Saturday, December 10. The exact program will be announced later, but one thing we will do is the White Elephant Gift Exchange. Everyone who can come to the meeting will make or buy a gift according to the price limit and wraps it. It can be weird, funny, or awesome! Each one draws a number from a bowl, and the one who draws the lowest number starts and picks a gift. She unwraps it and shows it to everyone. Then it’s another girl’s turn and she can either pick up another gift or steal the gift which the first player just unwrapped. If she does steal it, the first player picks up a new gift. Then the third player gets her change either to steal the gift or pick one of her own, and game continues until everyone has a gift. If a gift is stolen three times, the third person to steal it gets to keep it. But finally the first player can steal any gift she likes! So it is kind of a good luck if you pick the lowest number. Besides this gift exchange, we will also practice for the Lucia procession.
Since Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year, that means that we have the longest possible Advent, starting from the First Sunday of Advent on November 27. I put on the Sodality website the list of my favorite Advent songs, many of them coming from Finland and Sweden. Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, Finns living abroad are able to listen the Christmas Radio and hear their favorite Christmas music. This online radio station starts broadcasting already in the early November, and they have several different channels which feature different types of Christmas music. My favorite ones are “Most Beautiful Christmas Songs,” which plays old time traditional Finnish Christmas songs, and “Classic Christmas” which plays peaceful and solemn classical musical pieces of Christmastime. If you want a more peaceful alternative to the usual jingles this year, check them out.
It’s true that Christmas season doesn’t start until December 25, so in principle, Advent is not a time for Christmas music. But you can always use earbuds, and no one will know that you took a head start for the holidays. (This is what I’ve heard...)
I said my October monthly Mass for all our Sodalists on October 15, and the November monthly Mass on November 9. I pray you have a blessed start of the holy season of Advent.
Yours in Christ and Mary,