Every year I write about it. That may be because every year I enjoy it; every year, Corine and Jackie and Carol and Norma and Dao and even Ron spend time admiring it. This year, Father Magro encountered it for the first time; the rookies always find it useful.
It’s the Parishioner Tree, just next to the receptionists’ desk, where we hang just enough lights and a few ornaments, and then all the photo Christmas cards we receive. It was late in “blooming” this year, as many cards arrived after Christmas, so we are keeping it up as long as we can to prolong the enjoyment. It really is beautiful as a whole, and in each of its parts.
New parishioners don’t often grasp in their first year or so how much we like to see their cards here at the rectory, so it is the veterans who make sure we have their smiling faces to trim our tree.
Of course, for Father Magro and anyone else who is still learning the parish, it is great to see who goes with whom, that is, all the family members together, and maybe string together a few names and faces. So again, I remind parents not to leave themselves out of the photos!
Also significant now is the number of former parishioners who still send cards from wherever it is they moved. Our former flock sends cards from New York and North Carolina, Olney and even overseas, that remind us of people whom we loved having around and still miss. Before we hang them on the tree, we pass them around and read all the news. Can Jackson already be twelve years old? Look at little Steve with two younger brothers who are already big enough to play with! And don’t you think Jay is starting to look like his dad? It is a source of wonder.
The Germans still put real candles on their trees, but it is your faces that light our Tannenbaum. Please keep sending the cards, and try to come up with some excuse to stop by and enjoy the tree next time you have a chance. We bundle and keep the cards each year, but we always hate to take down the Parishioner Tree.
In related news, I got an email yesterday from Father Grisafi. Remember him? He’s only been gone four months, but it seems like ages already. He’s now Parish Administrator of Saint joseph Church in Babylon, New York. He just survived his first Christmas “in charge” and he sounded pleased, if completely gassed. He remembers Saint Bernadette fondly.
Better than a card or email is a visit, and the one and only Father Nick Zientarksi is around this weekend to make sure you don’t need a picture to remember who he is. He really has been the gift that keeps on giving. With him, you are all ornaments on the branches of this blessed parish. Every year I enjoy it, and I hope you do too.
Behold how the Cross of Christ stands revealed as the tree of life!