The Four O’Clock Mass Debacle

Merry Christmas Eve, everybody! Tonight’s the night we’ve all been waiting for, with family togetherness, traditions, and the jolly old man from way up north.

No, not Canada.

Speaking of family togetherness and traditions, one of my family’s traditions has become an annual argument about the celebration of the birth of Christ. I use the word “argument” lightly, and I mean it in the most amiable terms imaginable, but it’s a disagreement all the same.

We’ve held the long-standing tradition of going to 4:00pm mass at our parish on Christmas Eve. This started because it’s the Children’s Mass, and when we were little it was a big treat when the priest invited all the children up to the alter to hear the story of Christmas.

Many years later, Alex and I are a little old for the whole “children’s” aspect of the mass, but we continue to go to that service, because we always have. My parents have been trying to talk us into going to the 6:00pm service for years, but despite having to get to church around 3:00pm in order to ensure seating, we’ve held our ground about 4:00pm.

While this is the most crowded mass I've ever attended, Christmas Eve is a very close second.

Because we’re a family of great debaters, I’ve come up with solid reasons to match our stance.

  1. 4:00pm mass is one of the only Christmas traditions that’s survived from childhood.
  2. The hour spent at church before mass is quality family time.
  3. It’s something to occupy us in the afternoon.
  4. The “children’s” aspect gives us a youthful vigor for the holidays.
  5. The proximity spent with so many of our fellow church-goers reminds us to have goodwill to the community.
  6. The earlier time provides ample time in the evening for holiday festivities.
  7. The earlier we get home, the earlier it’s acceptable to put on fuzzy pajamas and slippers.
  8. It stretches out the time we spend together, before the child-like wonder of Christmas begs to open presents.
  9. Speaking of child-like wonder, the children’s mass does remind us of our younger years. Maybe I do believe in Santa!
  10. Alex and I always end up going early to save seats anyway, so our parents don’t have to go an hour in advance.

There you have it, ten great reasons to continue our long-standing tradition!

Then again…

Our other Christmas Eve traditions aren’t at all time sensitive, and we’re old enough now that we don’t need to get rushed off to bed really early. Two hours isn’t really that big of a deal, I guess.

And I always feel bad for all the young families with little kids who end up in standing room only, or watching the live feed from the rec center in the basement.

Nothing like some good old-fashioned Catholic guilt at Christmas!

Maybe we could go to 6:00pm mass this year. Sure, it’s not a tradition, but turducken was never a tradition, and I don’t think I could deal with Christmas without turducken now. Sometimes change is good. 6:00pm mass really doesn’t sound all that bad.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad.


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