Friday, December 25, 2015

Surrounded by Angels

Every year, on Christmas Eve, I hear my uncle tell the story of an angel appearing to a man named Joseph in a dream.

It's the Gospel reading for the Christmas Vigil Mass. Ever since my dad died a decade ago, my own small family always travels with my mom to visit his older brother, a retired Catholic priest... and we celebrate Mass together, with the same readings, every Christmas Eve.

And every year, I identify with Joseph. When my uncle reads the Gospel, I see angels all around the small dining room table of his childhood home.

I see where dad used to sit when I was a boy. I see the chalice where my grandmother always placed the salt shaker, just out of reach from my grandfather. From where I sit, I still see his outstretched arm, and I still see my grandmother in the kitchen, still secretly stifling a laugh.

Mass ends, and we joke about the lack of a homily and the lack of a collection -- and my uncle turns a bit wistful about the lack of music.

We may be too bashful to sing, but I sometimes want to tell my uncle that, every year, I still hear his own uncle -- my grandmother's talented brother -- playing piano in the living room.

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