Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 4 - Christmas at a Funeral?

As I mentioned on Monday, the gospel reading at my Grandmother's funeral was Luke 2: 1-21, the birth of Jesus. The reasons for this are many.
  • My Grandmother LOVED Christmas. She was born just before the big day, on December 17th (my Nonna was actually born on Xmas Day) and it was her absolute favourite time of year. She'd shop for gifts all year long, tucking them away, she would bake up a storm to share with friends and family and she'd prepare an enormous spread on the day.
  • Her name was Mary. Her parents actually intended to call her Minetta Louise (after both her grandmothers). Her 8 year old brother, Howard, had other plans. "Those names are terrible!" he proclaimed. "It doesn't matter what you name her, though, because I will be calling her Mary." The other names became her middle names and Mary she was named.
  • She was born in a chicken coop (not a stable, but close). Her family were living in Scarborough and constructing a house. The only structure on the land was a chicken coop, which my great-grandfather reinforced and made habitable. And that's where Grandma was born!
The real reason, however, has to do with the incredible hardships faced by Mary and Joseph. That part of the tale is often glossed over, but holy cow - what an awful situation.

This past weekend, we helped our friends Joe (Happy Birthday!!) and Isha move into their new house (about 5 minutes away! Woot!). This was significant because Isha was 38 weeks pregnant and totally tired and uncomfortable. I remember how pooped and ungainly I was at that point in pregnancy. And Mary had to ride a donkey for days on end en route to Bethlehem in that condition?

Can you imagine the discomfort? Long days on an animal, the heat, the uncertainty with respect to food, water, and shelter? And finally, having to give birth in a barn, far from family and home? Gah!

My Grandma's family were never well off, and the Depression was particularly hard. My great-grandparents and the kids were incredibly devout, resourceful and hardworking, though, and the family survived. My Grandma was also widowed with two kids and had to run a business all on her own - it was incredibly difficult again. But just like Mary and Joseph, she persevered and immense good came from the hard times. That's why she loved the verse in Corinthians, too - it talks about how "...our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." She believed that whole-heartedly, and so do I.


  1. Her name was Mary and she lived in a chicken coop as a child? I had no idea that your Grandma and I had so much in common!

  2. And I'll never be able to adequately express how grateful and appreciative Joe and I are for all the hard work you and Dave did during our move. Packing up our gross disorganized kitchen (I'm still ashamed about that), loading and unloading the truck, Dave having to go up and down our basement stairs about a gazillion times carrying boxes (of heavy things like books, no less), you bringing us a delicious dinner of pasta and your Nonna's meatballs and sauce...all of this without a single complaint and with a great attitude through it all. We couldn't be blessed with better friends!