Meals with friends, carols at St. Patrick's Church, and more camaraderie with friends - these are the Christmas Eve traditions are important to me.
The friends I see, the community I'm part of, all come together on this day.
It starts with Christmas Eve day lunch. My friends gather, as grandparents [my friend's parents] look after the kids, it is one of only two times each year we gather just us 'adults'. Thus continuing a tradition which began in high school.
I walk throughout Hamilton during the afternoon, dropping cards at friends, and enjoying the anticipation of the day. Be it being enjoying a slow stroll with coffee, or watching people who just started their Christmas shopping as they hectically run store to store.
Stepping into St. Patrick's Church as the pews are full, families gathered, a few children moving around the aisle in excitement, you feel the community that is our parish.
The St. Patrick's folk music group plays a joyous Christmas concert before the Mass. It is not to be missed, last year I travelled in from Toronto for the concert.
(This year, the concert starts at 7:45pm streaming online at www.stpatrickshamilton.ca)
The Fort Elgin potluck, a gathering of friends from across Downtown Hamilton, follows the early Mass. Then it is off to Burlington for 10pm Mass with my closest friend's family. Gathering at their house follows, and after a late night, I go home.
It goes without saying things are different this year, and goes without saying I look forward to these activities at end of 2021.
[Top photo: the Christmas Tree in the foyer of Old City Hall in Berlin, Germany 2019.]