A friend and I were sitting in the kitchen talking about Holy Week and he said, “Before you know it we will be putting out the Advent wreath!” No truer words have been spoken. They do say time flies faster the older we get; I am personally not a fan of this. How can we already be planning Christmas? It is so easy to take the everyday for granted and rush through to the next vacation or work deadline. We are always looking ahead, scheduling and planning, but, in the process missing today. Don’t get me wrong; I love romanticizing about my next getaway. I do, however, have to bring myself back to today. Do you ever stop at a red light and think about the people passing you? How about in church? I know I should be attentively listening to Father’s homily and appreciate all of the time, prayer and effort his words relate to the readings. I will confess that I do look about the church at the congregation and wonder about their lives, jobs and families.
One Christmas midnight Mass in particular stands so vividly in my memory. We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner and the children all received their traditional Christmas gift. New pajamas are given to all, so everyone looks somewhat presentable Christmas morning. We relaxed and waited to leave for midnight Mass. The family struggled to stay awake with full tummies. I started to get the peanut-butter rolls ready for Christmas morning. We made some coffee and played games until it was time for church and we are engulfed with the pure majesty of midnight Mass. I always put too much emphasis into the matching outfits, fancy ribbons and bows than was needed.
We, of course, get to Mass early so we can all sit comfortably together. One year in particular I remember an eclectic group of people trying to squeeze into the pew in front of us. One by one, another person had to sandwich themselves in. Some were a little disheveled and smelled of stale smoke; another had two different gloves; while one young adult had on new fleece “The Christmas Story”-themed sleep pants. I have to admit I was placing judgment by thinking, “Come earlier, wear real pants, wash and comb your hair.” In the meantime, my family fidgeted and tried to stay awake. It was evident they were one family; they all had similar builds and mannerisms. They sang at the top of their lungs, held hands as they prayed and embraced at the sign of peace. They turned around and greeted my family with warm smiles and true blessings of Christmas. My eyes welled with tears; they have no idea the beautiful, lasting gift they shared. I was ashamed at myself and almost jealous of their priorities. They were at midnight Mass with each other and they didn’t need anything else. They celebrated the birth of Jesus. Thanks to this unknown family, I have placed less emphasis on the material and more on the people celebrating together. I listen more attentively to the readings, homily and even the lyrics of every song. Hmmm… but on occasion I do catch myself, “I wonder where the pretty brunette three pews up got her hair cut.” I guess I will always be a work in progress. Better yet, I know what my New Year’s resolution can be!!
By Cathy Cooper, Coordinator of Dietary and services for the Holy Cross Diocesan Center
Photography by Monica Organ
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar plus 1 extra tsp
1 pkg active dry yeast
½ cup water
4-5 cups flour
¼ cup melted butter
Heat milk and pour over sugar and salt in large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to LUKEWARM water with 1 extra tsp sugar. Add the yeast mixture to the milk. Stir in about 2 cups of flour to make a thick batter. Beat thoroughly. Add melted butter and egg and beat well. Add enough flour to make soft dough that can be easily handled. Sprinkle a little flour onto a board and rotate around. Let the dough rest while you clean and butter the rising bowl. Knead the dough 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and satiny. The dough should be softer than bread dough. Put dough into buttered bowl and rotate so all sides are buttery. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down, roll into a rectangle, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roll into a log and cut into rolls. Place rolls on lightly greased pans until double in size. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.
2 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup cream or half and half
8 ounces of peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream all together and spread on cooled rolls.