Chapter XIII - Silent Night Holy Night
Long before the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, I was "up an at um" - ready to serve my very first Christmas Mass. We lived about a mile from church, and we had to walk all the way - to and fro - as they used to say. Mom and Dad bought us a beautiful, new, all-steel wagon for Christmas to replace the old one that fell victim to the Jitney craze. This new one was really nice - a big bright red Radio Flyer! I had another one of my brilliant ideas circulating around in my head. Why don't I ride my new wagon all the way down Bramble Hill? That's an excellent idea. It will sure beat walking.
It's 5:30 A.M. on Christmas morning, when 99-44/100 % of Cincinnati is sound asleep, after hassling with Santa's problems all night.
I dragged the new Radio Flyer, clumping down the front steps, and onto the sidewalk. I placed my left knee in the wagon on the cold steel. My right leg will propel the wagon. I will have to pump or pull the wagon half a mile to the top of Bramble Hill. At about 5:50 A.M., I climbed aboard and shoved off. I simply could not believe that a brand new wagon, with ball-bearing wheels, could make enough racket to wake the dead, but it did.
Porch lights lit my path all the way to church. People were yelling at me as if I had committed a crime! Mass went pretty smooth - I only got my feet caught in my cassock twice. I thought I was going to fall, but I didn't. The decorations in the church were simply fantastic. The entire ceiling was festooned with long ropes of live holly. The Main altar and two side alters were covered with poinsettias. The sight and smells really captured the spirit of Christmas.
One of my duties was to light the two big candles on the altar. I could not locate the metal taper. So, I decided to just use the taper candles. These are "Birthday candles" twelve inches long. After lighting the altar candles, I was unable to blow out the tapers. I was ready to panic, thinking I was about to set the church on fire. I swiped my fingers through the flame. This extinguished the flame but burned my fingers in the process. After Mass, I went out through the Sacristy to get my Radio Flyer. That's when my critical analysis of this brilliant plan began to take shape - two hours too late! The effortless ridde, that I enjoyed going down Bramble Hill, was rapidly coming back to haunt me. I suddenly realized that dragging that Radio Flyer back up the hill was going to be somewhat of a chore. When I staggered into the house at 8A.M. I felt like I had made another trip to the dump.
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