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Christmas time was always very special in our house growing up. We began our preparations on December 23, with the decorations of our family Christmas tree. Dad was in charge of putting the tree up and arranging the lights. Then he would leave the kids, under mom’s supervision, to finish the decorations on the tree. Once the tree was up and fully decorated, it felt like Christmas was almost here. Growing up in a musical family, I remember gathering around the Christmas tree as a family and singing Christmas carols together. My dad played the accordion, and we followed him closely with our singing. Christmas Eve dinner was the highlight of our family gatherings. Mom would prepare our traditional twelve course meal, and the table would be set with baby Jesus on a little bit of straw in the centre of the table. We had to be on a lookout for the first star that would appear, a signal that our meal can begin. The oldest member of the family would begin with the reading of the account of the birthday of Jesus, from the Gospel of Luke, followed by exchanging good wishes with one another as we broke the white wafer called “Oplatek” (a sign of God who became our bread from heaven). The meal would begin and only after the last person was finished eating could we open our presents. Dad would sometimes test the kids patience by choosing to have several helpings of different dishes, knowing perfectly well that all the kids wanted to get to the presents. After supper presents were opened. The evening was not finished until we went to midnight Mass

and returned exhausted by the day’s activities. I loved Christmas as a child, and I now realize that my parents had a beautiful way of teaching us about Jesus without taking all the fun out of Christmas. During this holy season of Christmas I hope that we will all experience the love and beauty that our God wants us to have. After all, he came so that we may have life, and have it to the fullest.

Fr. Wojtek Kuzma

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