A very happy New Year to everybody. Like I said, Christmas went very well here in our 3 Churches, and then I had a few days off with my family. So, a few thoughts for the beginning of 2012...
While staying with my brother I popped in one day to the parish church for a quiet minute. A dad came in with his two young sons and his own father. I couldn't help hearing their chat, as I was looking at the fine crib alongside them. It seemd young dad was not a church goer (evidently a lapsed or as I prefer "resting" Catholic), and so his boys weren't either. Grandad was determined that the lads should have an experience of the crib. Their faces lit up as he gave them a guided tour of all the figures in the stable, and they bubbled over with questions. They seemed to roughly know who Jesus was, but not much more... Grandad told the story with faith and love as the boys drank it all in, and even dad slowly seemed to move from an impatient embarrassment to a, well, warm-ish enthusiasm. How sad, I thought that the boys needed it all explained to them, but good on you, grandad. What it says about where we are in Britain today, I'm not quite sure... Evangelization is going to be one of our main areas for 2012 in our parishes, and here it was.
On a more, um, stomach-centred level - a tale of meals. Christmas lunch was with parishioners of Scottish-Italian-Polish-Welsh influences and, as I said in my last post, scrummy. Then my visit to my brother and sister-in-law was punctuated, as always, with equally yummy food, such as a light but filling avocado and prawn salad or a tasty sardiney type of pasta. Then off to my sister's for our annual Christmas time family get-together with added new wife-of-nephew, around the cold ham and turkey, pickles, spuds etc.
Finally, back home and out to another parishioners' home for New Year's Day lunch with a French angle. Merveilleux! A little salmon and prawn on rice n salad hors d'oeuvre was followed by a new one to me, Moroccan tajine or tagine. This is a kind of slow-cooked lamb stew with all kinds of veg, fruits and spices in, that is usually cooked in a special pot. Mmmm. Then we moved on to "les treize desserts", which is Provencal custom for this time of year, where thirteen different fruits and nuts are served. Finally a scrumbotious egg-custard was served with whipped egg-white on top. I had to guess what the flavour of the custard was, and was mystified with a strong taste that I was sure I knew, but could not identify. Eventually our hostess revealed the secret ingredient to be... lavender! Apparently it's very fashionable at the moment. Provencal heaven.All of these meals shared with family, friends and parishioners give me enormous pleasure (as those who know me would confirm by my waist-line!) What a wonderful way of celebrating this joyful season - with lovely people around a table with good food. The Lord sure knew a thing or two when He left the gift of Himself in the form of a meal. There is nothing like sharing a meal - however simple or elaborate, at a table or at an altar - for building up all that is good in being human. Or in being Christian.
PS Pics are off the net, not as eaten!!