DAILY CATHOLIC     CHRISTMAS ISSUE     December 23-27, 1998     vol. 9, no. 248


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    To all our readers,

          At this time of year, allow me to reminisce, for memories always come wafting back in the corners of this tired cranium. Some of the earliest recollections are at old Saint Olaf's church in downtown Minneapolis where, at the tender age of three or four I would clutch my mom and dad's hands, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I wondered in awe at the manger scene and listened to the echoing sounds of "Silent Night" and other appropriate Christmas hymns that would resound through this three story chamber that, unfortunately, burned down in the early fifties. It was replaced years later by a modern edifice that defies description, but I will never forget those first Christmases at that rickety old church. Santa Claus really didn't enrapture me until I was in kindergarten, but those early years the baby Christ-child and the beautiful Blessed Mother surely did. Looking back I can't thank my parents enough for weaning me on Catholicism and the traditions of the Church and Christmas.

          For years it would become a family ritual to take the trolley downtown. First we were treated to a ham sandwich and Coke at the old Woolworths that we called the "five and dime store." Then we'd bundle up and trek up Nicolett Avenue past the decorated department store windows of Dayton's, Donaldson's, and a few other stores I can't remember to ogle the magnificent, animated window displays that emanated the old-world splendor of Christmas. Shivering we would make our way back the other side of the Street past Power's and down to St. Olaf's in time for midnight Mass. As tired as I was it was something I looked forward to for days and, according to my parents, struggled to stay awake through it all. I remember bringing coins to the crib as a birthday gift for the Baby Jesus and feeling all warm inside that He was going to be okay because I'd given Him some money to keep Him warm and cozy. One year my dad, who's still alive and kicking at 84 in Minneapolis, pulled me in a special sled two miles downtown, making sure I was warm and cozy like the infant Savior. I couldn't relate to that back then, but it strikes me now how similar the circumstances. My mom and dad braved the cold and elements to make sure I was protected just as Joseph and Mary withstood the cold-hearted treatment of the inn-keepers at Bethlehem and gladly accepted the meagre accommodations of the stable. Little did anyone in that tiny town of Bethlehem know the importance of the night and it was left to the angels to signal His coming to the lowliest of shepherds. I had parents who signaled the importance of that night to me right from the start and, because of those traditions, they have stuck with me for nigh over a half century.

          A tear comes to my heart when I think back on those simple times and the state of the perceptions of Christmas today. Back then, because of my Irish-Scandinavian roots, Santa Claus was "Father Christmas" or "Saint Nick" who complimented the reason for the season. Today he takes center-stage with nary a thought for Whose birthday it truly is. Madison Avenue has usurped the quaint and atmospheric Nicolet Avenues and Main streets of yore. My loving angel Cyndi and I have our own particular special memories of Christmases past to remind us of those great times and why this time of year is so special in retrospect, but we want so much to share those traditions with our sons and others but they can't fathom what an "old-fashioned" Christmas is like. Gone are the grandparents and families so close. That's sad for it is a part of a person that never leaves and always reminds one of the love Christ came to spread.

          Our hope and prayer for all of you this Christmas is to recapture those "Catholic memories" of yesteryear and strive to imbue this generation with a true sense of Hope and Love for all through knowledge of our Catholic Faith. That is why we continue with this "labor of love" - the DAILY CATHOLIC. That is why we persist in swimming upstream against a tide of worldly opinion. Many things have changed over the decades since those "innocent late forties and fifties" but the Roman Catholic Church is still the same solid Rock - all because that little Infant grew up and gave to Peter the Keys of the Kingdom. He came to save all mankind and He did so through the vehicle we know as His One, True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That is a tradition we can never let go. Please, whatever you do, keep that in mind this Christmas and all through the final year of this millennium as we wait in anxious Hope and Joy for the Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Michael Cain

December 23-27, 1998       volume 9, no. 248


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