Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

If It’s Midnight,This Must Be A Manger

Kim_Luke2It’s here again, that special time of year, which at this point in my life doesn’t feel all that special anymore. It feels like shopping. Shopping and lists of things to do, buy, wrap, ship, light, hang on a tree, cook in a casserole, write in a card, dress in a Santa suit, steal while the villagers hold hands and sing “Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!” (And adding to my anxiety, due to the marketing schedule of major corporations, is my craving for a Shamrock Shake right about now. Color me confused.)

Regardless of your winter celebration of choice, there is bound to be some amount of obligation and stress attached. If not, you’re doing it wrong, and nobody’s had the nerve to tell you. Now try harder, fail bigger and get in the spirit of things.

My extended family celebrates Christmas. Personally, I belong to that special group of individuals who celebrates the social aspect of just about any celebration you throw our way, as long as there’s dip and music. You may recognize us: the Lazy Catholics, the Lazy Jews, the Lazy Pagans. We light trees, eat latkes and burn Yule logs only to retire to our normally scheduled program without so much as a spiritual hiccup. Things were probably different when we were young.

I remember many Christmas celebrations from my youth—some wonderful, some not so much. Mostly I remember what I wore (pink crushed velvet bell bottoms? good year) or what I received (taco rack? meh). However, what remains constant in my memory is a magic that returned every year, until I was well into my teens, and it never seemed to lose its aura of mystery: Midnight Mass. Even now the lapsed believer in me is wistful at the mere mention. And I’ll tell you right now, the two things about Midnight Mass that make it untouchable as far as magic goes: the Midnight and the Mass.

As a child there’s nothing more mystical than midnight. It’s a turning point between today and tomorrow. Staying up till midnight means outlasting the day—amazing! Nothing banal transpires at midnight, only gossamer-winged flights of fancy. Arriving at this bewitching hour awake and in clothing (not pajamas) is a badge of honor. There’s not a single spell in the kingdom that ends at “the stroke of three-o’clock-ish.” Magic!

Mass and I have a long, sordid history. While I spent years trying to avoid mass on Sundays, it rarely worked. I would dutifully arrive and sit (and kneel, sit, stand, sit, kneel, stand, shake hands, kneel, sit and stand). There were prescribed places and words for speaking, and the rest was “brain pause.” Regardless of whether or not the subject at hand was the subject on your mind, keeping quiet was required. While some adult parishioners silently ticked off grocery lists or home fix-it projects, kids stared into the distance, looking forward to the donuts that always followed.

Put these two together and Midnight Mass became a perfect Silent Night storm.

I find myself yearning for Midnight Mass, that combination of the magical bewitching hour plus required quiet, with the promise of a ham buffet somewhere around two o’clock in the morning. I crave that meditative spot to reflect and hide from the noise of the world, where any fights, tensions, worries, obligations or bickering stop for an hour. I want to be surrounded by warm lights, heady perfumes, discarded coats, incense clouds, fresh pine, choir-filled rafters, and elbow-to-elbow solitude, with a soundtrack of the best music ever commissioned by an organized religion. (They really got that part right.)

Of course, the romantic filter through which I view Midnight Mass is also clouded with Christmas Eve sleep deprivation and sugar-cookie crashes. Did the children’s choir really sound like angels? Did everyone sing and bob heads like the Whos of Whoville? Did that baby Jesus just appear out of nowhere in crèche? Hey, that Joseph looks a lot like Vince DiMaggio from fourth grade. Can I have a crush on the fake Joseph and the real Jesus? That seems dangerous.

Odds are I won’t attend a Midnight Mass this year. I feel awkward showing up just for the music and magic. Besides, I’m so afraid that the magic will be gone, replaced with my own skepticism, cynicism, evolutionism, feminism and criticism, making me an anachronism. (We’ll discuss my brief dance with solipsism at a later date, if indeed you exist in time and space to have such discussion.)

Odds are much better that I’ll stay home, plug in the lights on the tree, turn on some Bing Crosby and politely ask everyone in earshot to be quiet. Very quiet. So I can hear my Grinch heart growing three sizes—a Christmas miracle. Or too much dip.

Kim Luke wishes you Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Brightest Yule, and a reasonable helping of otherly-and-non-denominational greetings. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Send comments on this article to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (1)Add Comment
You Amaze Me
written by Lady, December 20, 2010
You are such a blessing and a delight to those around you, I am thankful to know you! Your wittiness and humor kill me :)

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location