While many good things happened around here over the Advent and Christmas season, and all of them contributed to the vigor of our enthusiasm here in the rectory, there is one that stands out: the Parishioner Tree, now in its fourth year. Can you find your own family card in the picture?
Family photo Christmas cards do not get a lot of respect in the chatter of the day, but I have always enjoyed them. I love getting them from my friends who live far away, so I can see how they and their families are changing and growing. I also enjoy them here in the parish. They give me a chance to see families together, putting siblings with one another and with their parents, reminding me of names, or even providing them for the first time. Technology has improved the quality and content of these cards, as more better pictures can be featured, and greater variety of (authentic Christmas) greetings are available, with more room for personal text.
And since we have new staff members here in the rectory again this year, it provides to them, too, a great way to get to know the members of the parish. Corine Erlandson has been at our reception desk since June, so she has been getting to know more and more people. But this really helps her fill in the details!
It is a great way to maximize the impact and enjoyment of the cards we receive. I keep my own friends’ card separate, so I know that I do not get a look at them as often as I do the ones that go on the tree. The staff rearrange the cards as new ones come in, so a different card or photo catches the eye every time we walk past. And because I really do miss folks when they move out of the parish, I make it a priority to include cards from “alumni” families who remember St. B at Christmastime.
My one complaint remains this, that some parents leave themselves out of the pictures. That is made somehow more egregious when the family pet, usually a dog, is included in the picture, but the parents are not. Come on, don’t feign modesty or shyness – let your mom-and-dad flag fly! So what if you look a bit more, ahem, mature this year than last; we can all identify with that. Besides, it is good to see the whole family together, in at least one of the pictures. Even Fido makes more sense in that context.
The context that make this whole parish make sense is the families, the “domestic churches,” of which it is made, the basic units of the Universal Church. The continuing sanctification of human life in worship and the daily work of fidelity that is familial love bears fruit in this parish, fruit that hangs beautifully on our Parishioner Tree.