Christmas Octave with families

Christmas Day itself I spent with my sister Mary's family - always a great day. After lunch I did actually watch television for a short while. It was an episode of "Shrek" in which the homonymous protagonist has lots of people round to his house, throws them all out, repents, searches for the "true meaning of Christmas", finds it is "everybody coming together", and then invites everybody back again. It was a truly remarkable feat in that as far as I could tell (I was not awake for the whole time, you understand) the entire programme managed to skirt around Christmas without a single reference to the nativity of Jesus Christ.

Later, we played "Scattegories" and "Balderdash": much more fun. The Wiki article says:
An oft used strategy in balderdash is to elect your own fake definition in an attempt to give it credibility in the minds of your fellow players. This is referred to as a "downstream balder". You do not score a point for guessing your own fake definition, only for other people who guess yours as being right.
I managed that a couple of times and I shall in future refer to it knowingly as a "downstream balder."

I was invited to a family on St Stephen's Day but the end of evening Mass, my cold had rather worn me down and I rang to give my apologies - most regretfully too, I might add, although I really did need an early night.

On Sunday, the feast of The Holy Family (OF)/St John (EF), I made up for my previous lethargy by visiting two families. The lunch table at one was dominated by a Christmas pumpkin:

The evening's entertainment gave me an opportunity to have a go on the "Wii". I wasn't much good at lightsabre fighting but managed to win a couple of consolation rounds against my eight year old oppenent. Archery, which involved less waving the arms around and more concentration was a little better until it proved necessary to compensate for wind speed and distance.

After bashing lots of things and people in virtual reality, I think that there was plenty of pent-up energy among the children to hit a real object with a large stick, so the Pinata came out:

On the feast of the Holy Innocents, it was my turn to entertain. Twenty or so members of my own family, including a great niece and nephew, came over to Blackfen. The Small Hall has a connecting door to the front room so it is a good place for children to play with radio controlled cars, throw felt balls at people with velcro covered hats on, and that sort of thing. My brother-in-law spent a considerable amount of energy convincing me of the value of the music of Messaien and I feel slightly less at a disadvantage in that respect now.

Today on the feast of St Thomas of Canterbury, I celebrated Mass for the parish altar servers at which four of them were enrolled into the Guild of St Stephen. We had a little party afterwards with tea, coffee, cakes and squash. There was even a glass of sherry available but few takers this far into the Octave.

All of this has left me confirmed in the truth that the vocation of the celibate priest and the vocation of the married couple are complementary and mutually enriching. As the great Abbé Lacordaire said of the priest, he is "a member of each family, yet belonging to none."

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