Christmas Morning

Posted October 1, 2017

My family has the tendency to be fashionably late for Christmas Eve Mass. Christmas Eve, to put it simply, is chaotic.

The day is filled with last minute shopping, frantic wrapping and preparing appetizers for the family Christmas party that begins after Mass. When the clock strikes 4, we all attempt to look presentable in time for 4:30 Mass, making it inevitable that we will not be seated in the first row pew.

Our tardiness usually results in cramming into the back entrance of the church, accompanied by the other late-comers, trying to shelter ourselves from the bitter December weather. Humorously, we have made close friends with the other regular late-comers.

Although we make light this situation, Nana hates being late to Mass, especially on Christmas.

On Christmas Eve 2009 our family was running especially late. Knowing we would miss half of the service, Nana opted to stay home and instead go to Mass on Christmas Day.

After a beautiful Christmas morning filled with love and laughter, followed by an early brunch of eggs and fruit, Nana announced that she would be going to 11:30 Mass at her old church. My older sister, offered to join her because it was freezing out but Nana insisted that she stay home with the rest of the family. After ten minutes of back and forth, both my sister and Mom finally accepted the fact Nana was going to mass alone. To ensure her safety, Nana said to Mom right before she left, “Don’t worry, God will take care of me”.

Later on during our family dance session, the house phone began to ring, interrupting our favorite Christmas tunes with a melody of its own. The caller ID reads “Lincoln Police” and Dad immediately twists the volume nob, silencing Michael Bublé.

Mom answers the phone and the whole living room becomes quiet. Our eyes locked on Mom’s facial expressions as they shift from paranoia to sadness to relief. After thanking the police officer, she hung up the phone. She explains to us that Nana is OK but they are driving Nana home because they had taken her license away.

So, here is what happened…

On her way to church, Nana drove through a red light because she had mistaken a green light, for crossing traffic, for her own light. Thankfully she did not cause an accident because not many other cars were on the road. A cop on duty saw her run the light and proceeded to pull her over; however, at first he was not very successful.

Nana had not recognized she ran a red light nor did she recognize that a cop was behind her with his lights on. She drove for miles with the cop chasing after her, completely oblivious to the cruiser behind. After about 4 miles of the cop tailgating her with lights and sirens, he sped up and pulled up beside her, finally making Nana aware that she needed to pull over.

Nana was extremely emotional and upset that the cop was yelling at her. In her mind the only crime she had committed was now being late to Mass. Immediately the cop, frustrated and upset, took her license away.

Nana was right; God did take care of her that day. She was very fortunate that this incident took place on Christmas Day with no traffic. She was upset that the cop stripped her of the liberty to drive, but it was a blessing in disguise. Having her license taken away on Christmas day eliminated the possibility of another accident that would leave both herself and others severely injured.

Mom, although saddened by the situation and upset with cop’s behavior toward Nana, was relieved for multiple reasons. First, she was overjoyed that Nana was completely safe. Secondly, my mom had begun to notice Nana’s diminishing driving capabilities but she did not want to force Nana to give up her driver’s license, and thus some of her freedom. Through this frightening experience she did not have to personally take it away from her, potentially hindering their beautiful relationship.

Christmas 2009 made our family extremely aware of the severity of my Nana’s dementia and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly after, changing my family’s, especially Mom’s, lifestyle forever.