Posted December 19, 2014 in Advent and Christmas:
Christmas in Our Houses: MH Russia 2013

by Karen Maskiew.

In our houses, like in yours, Christmas doesn’t always turn out as planned.

On Christmas Eve, Catherine Lesage (called "Katia" in Russia) woke up sick with a bad cold, so we were wondering if we should cancel the collation we had planned for after the Vigil Mass.

That was one thing up in the air. We had also invited a friend, Julia, and her family for Christmas supper, but her daughter had had a high fever for a few days. They didn’t know whether or not they’d be able to come. So that, too, was up in the air.

We put the finishing touches on the house decorations and prepared the food for the collation. We rested in the afternoon, and then decided to carry on with the collation.

Katia and I are in the choir, but she decided to just go to Mass; she wasn’t up to singing and attending the other activities before Mass.

I went to church for the 7 p.m. choir practice, but at first only one person was there besides me; the others coming from work in rush hour traffic arrived later.

In the lower room of the church where the choir was gathering to practice, the children in the Christmas play were getting their costumes on, and the kiosk was selling last minute gifts. Needless to say, the whole downstairs was bustling with people and activities.

And that wasn’t all that was going on just before the scheduled events.

In this city where most people are either Orthodox or non-believers, a camera crew from the local TV station was filming "a Roman Catholic Christmas" for the evening news.

Up until just before the program started, they were interviewing our pastor, Fr. Antoni. (They filmed everything that went on that evening.)

The program put on by the parish started with the Christmas play performed by children and young adults. After that, the choir sang two songs, "Deck the Halls" in English and "Gaudete" in Latin.

This was followed by solo music performance by two boys, one playing the violin and the other, the cello.

Finally, we had the Vigil Mass. After Mass, everyone was greeting each other and exchanging gifts. Katia and I rushed back home to prepare for the collation.

Six of the ten people we had invited were able to come, including three priests. The priests didn’t stay long as they had to celebrate the morning liturgies. In fact, everyone left early this year, and we had the dishes cleaned up by 2:30 a.m.

Christmas morning, Julia told Katia that her daughter was too sick for them to come for supper.

We decided to pack up our Christmas dinner and give it to them—keeping some for the two of us. Among the foods we gave her, some were Canadian: tortière (a French Canadian meat pie that is traditional for Christmas), butter tarts and Nanaimo bars ( very sweet chocolate bars).

The TV crew wanted to film a family celebrating Christmas for their program, and at the last minute, they ended up with Julia’s family. Good thing we had given them the supper. Julia hadn’t had time to cook a festive supper, but because of our gift, they had one for the TV crew to film.

The rest of the day was low-key. Katia rested at home and I visited some friends. In the evening, after our quiet Christmas supper, Katia and I gathered in front of the TV to watch the program about Christmas at our parish.

Though they had filmed the family celebration for about an hour, they aired less than 5 minutes of it. And though they had filmed the entire evening at church, little of that appeared as well. In fact, the whole segment was less than ten minutes.

Such was our Christmas in Krasnoyarsk.


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