Oh Holy Night

A few weeks ago, Dad asked about conducting a video call with the remaining (adult) children gathered. My sister Nanette, whose day job is software support, took the request and set up a Zoom meeting. Our father is 81 years old, and his computing device is an iPhone, so some testing was necessary beforehand. Of course, during last night’s final prep, his home lost electrical power (weather is stormy back home). She persevered, as did he.

Following some snafus getting him connected, sometime after 7 p.m. EST, we gathered online—some of us seeing one another for the first time in decades. We all live in different states. Nan’s husband joined and my wife. Our youngest sister is widowed. Missing and sorely missed: The eldest daughter, who passed away in 2016.

Dad wanted to revive a lost tradition. When we were kids, on Christmas Eve, he would read from the Bible about Jesus’ birth. Dad last did so in 1974, he said tonight. Despite being hard of hearing, he let lose crisp baritone recitation of Luke 2:1-20. I could have closed my eyes and returned to childhood, except for the one missing element of the tradition. The Girls and I were each permitted to open one present before going to bed and waiting until Christmas to tear into the rest.

Except, tonight, we kept tradition by breaking it: The online gathering of far-flung family was the gift—so satisfying that no other could be better tomorrow. Would anyone really complain that we opened our presents before the reading?

I want to thank Nan for making the moment happen. I meant to ask if she planned to record the Zoom call. One can hope that she did so.

Hence we come to the Featured Image, captured tonight using Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra specifically to illustrate this missive. The Nativity is outside the home where lives Carl, one of the “Cats of University Heights“. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 500, 1/30 sec, 23mm (film equivalent); 6:41 p.m. PST.