I’m sure that at least once in human history, Christmas has fallen on a Monday, but not within my immediate memory. Because I would remember the absolute Mass placement hysteria every single Catholic is experiencing right now. The feast day, which one of Mass obligation, is not waived. And neither is the 4th Sunday of Advent. This means that families accustomed to attending Christmas Eve Mass have some potentially very angry children (or, in my case, 40 year olds) on their hands.

The problem is that we were spoiled last year with Christmas on a Sunday. Advent began at its proper time—the weekend after Thanksgiving– and a full week was awarded for all four candles on the Advent wreath. Sunday Mass was Christmas Mass. It was all quite tidy.

Well, we’re paying for it now. The parking lot for the 4:30 Vigil Mass was full on Saturday night and I’m pretty sure there was more than one non-regular hustling in the side doors. I wanted to embrace each and every one of them: “I’m so sorry. I know you tried. You have to come back.”

The celebrant, who just happened to be the Auxiliary Archbishop, was having none of it. This Saturday evening, the Fourth Week of Advent, was not a Christmas Mass. “Christmas is coming!” he beamed, Pink Cap of Authority towering from the pulpit. “It’s hard to wait, isn’t it?”

You’re almost there.  You’re just… not there.

As if the point hadn’t been made by the Vice President of Not Waiving Holy Days, we sang all seven verses of “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Catholics don’t do that. We roll out verses 1-3, at most. If there’s a particularly slow table-setting server, we maybe stretch it out to 4. The whole thing? That’s Lutheran talk.

This is not a matter, as some have argued, of insisting on technicality in the face of sanity. The point is waiting for each event of life to unfurl in its proper turn. The point is acknowledging each station of life, even if that milestone lasts for 24 hours. First, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Then, Christmas. First, rebuilding. Then, winning.

I rather enjoyed this particular forced wait. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” only gets its time out of the hymnal for the four weeks of Advent, and stretching it out thus gave it a nice spin in the spotlight. See you when the Bengals are out of the playoffs for 2018, “O Come.”

As I trotting through the Key of David and the Rod of Jesse and the whole family, left yet undone was the wrapping of two tubes of flavored Chapstick; the mixing, cutting, baking, and decoration of an entire herd of gingerbread people; macaroni and cheese prep; the creation of a breakfast casserole; and the writing of this column. Also I had not, at that point in the day, taken a shower. Had I? Maybe. Also possibly a shower.

During his homily, Archbishop Binzer read a child’s poem he found on a classroom wall of a parish he once served.

It’s hard to wait for spring to begin
And for my favorite team to win
It’s hard to wait for the cake to bake
It’s so very hard to wait.

Christians like me tend to forget that after Mary received the startling news from the Angel Gabriel, she had nine months to sit there and be pregnant and unmarried and think about things. We do see her pop in on her cousin to help with her own childbirth, but the Blessed Mother is not seen again until the Romans decide it’s a good idea to count heads and make everybody fill out the long form census to learn how many flushable toilets were on the property. So then she hauls her nine-months-along self onto a donkey to have a baby in a drippy cave right next to the aforementioned donkey. I am confident that other religions– older than Christianity and, assuming the art teacher who taught me World Religions was correct– also know a thing or two about waiting.

And what of this cake the Reds are baking? We have been repeatedly informed that 2018 will perhaps be our last season of waiting, that Actual Winning will begin in 2019, 2020. Are you prepared to wait that long?

Is this actually waiting? What about the people of Cleveland, who have endured such abuse from their NFL franchise that it left for, what, four years? Is that waiting, or Stockholm syndrome?

Zack Cozart, understandably, got tired of waiting. He’s thirty-two years old and he’s taking his family and his donkey to California. Will Tucker Barnhart get tired of waiting? Will–at long last– Votto? Johnny Cueto got tired of waiting, and his well-timed impatience got him a nice piece of jewelry. So did Chapman. Or did we get tired of waiting on them? And by we, I do mean us– not the front office, not the Twitterverse. Those of us who would show up at the yard even if Redzilla were never seen again.

Are you tired of waiting?

What are you planning to do about it?

I’m just going to keep singing, and think about the cookies I’m gonna put in the oven.

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Blonde Champagne has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. She has also been published on MSNBC.com, Dish Pronto, JamsBio, On Her Game, and Freelance Switch. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006.

A Cincinnati native, Mary Beth obtained her undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s College, and was the first SMC student invited to read at the University of Notre Dame’s Literary Festival. Her vast and frightening array of day jobs after completing her MFA in nonfiction writing at Bennington College have included bodyguarding Jimmy Buffett, working in education at the Kennedy Space Center, and sports reporting for the Thoroughbred racing industry. She currently teaches college, runs wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. 7 verses are for Lutherans … very well done.

    I’m a little tired in general due to travel last week. But I’m more than tired, I’m WEARY of the wait. I long to see a competitive team or at least one that is making some moves demonstrating our front office is THINKING instead of wishing.

    Until then, I have my new Rock-em-Sock-em Robots to play with. Anybody up for a little tournament? I call the Red one …

    Merry Christmas, MBE. Hope you, Josh-the-Pilot and the nieces/nephews had a great one.

    • Thank you and Merry Christmas to you. Josh the Pilot (my favorite Lutheran) and I were surrounded by a warm house, family, good food, and hope for a terrific 2018, so it was a wonderful Christmas 🙂

  2. The maddening thing about the waiting, Reds fan version, is the diversion of opportunity. Why oh why do we waste our energy and hope dreaming of prospects getting playing time (sorry Jesse, sorry Robert, sorry Michael, sorry Amir, sorry Cody, sorry guys…) only to endure the predictable mediocrity of displacement to the Feldmans and Arroyos of the baseball world? Why do we dream of a Yelich (there I said it) joining the team, or some addition by subtraction with the departure of a Hamilton and a Peraza, only to see the Cueto / Cozart / Chapman bus roll out of town, and new low ceiling pitchers arrive straight from the Scowling Man festival? If I thought the Reds were maximizing opportunities to improve, I could wait. I could manage mass Mass. But this is agony. Thank goodness the calendar will turn, the snow will melt, the days will grow longer and pitchers and catchers will soon report. At least then we’ll have games to discuss instead of slow death by diversion of opportunity. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a Christmas tree to undecorate…

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About Mary Beth Ellis

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Blonde Champagne has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. She has also been published on MSNBC.com, Dish Pronto, JamsBio, On Her Game, and Freelance Switch. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. A Cincinnati native, Mary Beth obtained her undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s College, and was the first SMC student invited to read at the University of Notre Dame’s Literary Festival. Her vast and frightening array of day jobs after completing her MFA in nonfiction writing at Bennington College have included bodyguarding Jimmy Buffett, working in education at the Kennedy Space Center, and sports reporting for the Thoroughbred racing industry. She currently teaches college, runs wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.

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2016 Reds, 2017 Reds, 2017 Spring Training, Where Are They Now?

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