Christmas Memories: Clergy, Religious of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh Share Their Personal Christmas Memories

Each year on Christmas Eve, I post one of my favorite“Calvin and Hobbes” comic strips on social media.

It was originally published in newspapers on Dec. 24, 1989, and features Calvin and his stuffed animal tiger — (Or is he an actual tiger?The question remains unresolved) — Hobbes sprawled out on the carpet in their living room in front of a roaring fireplace.

The accompanying poem explains how much Calvin loves his friend Hobbes.

The final lines are:
Propped against him on a rug
I give my friend a gentle hug
Tomorrow’s what I’m waiting for
But I can wait a little more
That’s how I’ve always felt about the solitude of Christmas Eve.
I fear I could type many words and still not capture that Christmas Eve “feeling,” which to me is a combination of stillness and melancholy.

Most of my special Christmas Eve memories revolve around those of my youth at my grandparents’ houses in Charleroi and Monessen, both along the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.

There were the annual Christmas Eve Holy Suppers of pirohi at my grandma’s house on Ninth Street in Charleroi.
It was a full house and my aunt, uncles and cousins somehow fit around the dining room table.

In Monessen, my grandpap would take me downtown to the Torn Page book store to grab a comic book or a magazine.
(In retrospect, maybe I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning, either.)

One Christmas Eve I especially remember is coming home to the house on Allequippa Avenue following Midnight Mass at St Mary.
After getting out of the gaby David Mayernik Jr. Editor rage in the back yard, I looked up at the top of the house and saw a red bulb glowing brightly in the chilly night air.

To this day, you won’t convince me it wasn’t Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer.
As I got older, my family’s Christmas Eve celebrations moved to my aunt and uncle’s house in Bethel Park, Pa.
Following Christmas Eve Liturgy at St. Gregory, we would gather for hors d’oeuvres and a gift exchange.
I’d also watch at least one airing of “A Christmas Story” — which began its Christmas Day 24-hour continuous running on television around this time.

This Christmas Eve will be much different. I’m expecting to only see my parents and brother on Christmas Day. It’s yet another happy piece of life the virus has stolen from the 2020 jigsaw puzzle.

Scientists call it seasonal affective disorder and although I’m not a scientist, I fear it will be as bad as ever this year.
A worldwide pandemic combined with holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day, miserable weather and the sun setting before 5 p.m. is a lousy cocktail.

So, let’s remember the good times.
I reached out to others in the Archeparchy asking them to write a personal, special memory of Christmas.
What they wrote back is on these pages.