“Christmas won’t feel right this year,” said one of the people who share my surname and address.
“Yikes. Why not?” I asked.
“Because it’s on a Sunday. We always dress up and go to a long Mass on Sunday.”
“Ah,” I said. “But you need to realize that Christmas never feels right, no matter what day of the week it falls on.”
“Think of the absurdity of Christmas on a Monday,” I said.
“Umm … not feeling it,” said my offspring.
“How long will Week 4 of Advent be this year?” I asked.
“Duh. A week long.”
“That’s right, but when Christmas is on a Monday how long is Week 4 of Advent?”
“Ah-ha. Just one day. Just that Sunday. You’re right! That is weird.”
“And how about Christmas on Tuesday?” I asked.
“What about it?”
“What is the Monday before a Christmas Tuesday?”
“And what is the day before that?”
“A Sunday Mass day.”
“It’s too much, all in a row like that.”
“Hmmm,” thought the child. “It does seem stupid to have Christmas on a Tuesday.”
“Totally,” I said. “But don’t say stupid. Say ‘silly.’”
“Whatever. Christmas on Tuesday is silly.”
“But Christmas on Wednesday is worse,” I said.
“When Christmas is on Wednesday, it feels like an interruption, like you don’t even get a full week to get ready, like Christmas is coming unexpectedly out of nowhere.”
“I guess,” said the Hoopes. “And no one wants to go to a long Mass on a Wednesday.”
“No way!” I said, then thinking better of it, said, “Well, maybe some people don’t mind …”
“But there’s nothing wrong with Christmas on Thursday,” the child said, emphatically.
“I guess Christmas on Thursday wouldn’t feel weird at all — if we there was no such thing as Thanksgiving,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“When Christmas falls on Thursday, it’s always exactly four weeks after Thanksgiving Thursday.”
“So, Thanksgiving is a lot like Christmas: Getting together with family for a special meal. I think we need more space between them, like the more than five weeks we have this year.”
“Okay, that one’s a stretch.”
I was about to respond, but now the Hoopes kid was into it.
“I can totally see your point with Christmas on Friday, though,” said the child.
“Yeah. Christmas was on Friday last year, and we didn’t get a free weekend.”
“What do you mean, a ‘free weekend’?”
“Well, Christmas usually gives you unexpected days to use your new stuff. When Christmas came on Friday it was, like, just a regular weekend, only on steroids.”
“Exactly. Good. And Christmas on Saturday is just like a regular Sunday Mass day, only on steroids.”
“Yes! Two days of long Masses in a row!”
“So you see, my child, Christmas doesn’t make sense any day of the week.”
And then I saw it: The eye roll. “Okay, give it to me,” said the Hoopes.
“Give what to you?”
“You are obviously heading toward a grand spiritual lesson of some kind.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because that’s your thing, Dad. I bet you end up writing about it, too. Don’t use my name when you do.”
“Whatever. I don’t just say things to write about them. But you’re right: I do think it is entirely spiritually appropriate that Christmas doesn’t have a day that feels exactly right.”
“And the reason is …”
“Ash Wednesday is always Wednesday, as it should be: Wednesday feels penitential as it is. Easter is always on Sunday, and that is right, too. It’s so right that all the Sundays share the Sunday-ness of Easter.”
“I’m pretty sure ‘Sunday-ness’ isn’t a word, Dad.”
“And Thanksgiving makes sense on Thursdays.”
“Two ‘Th’ words.”
“You’re totally stretching on every Thursday point you try to make, Dad. But go on.”
“Thanks for that,” I said. “But do you remember what the Gospel on the First Sunday of Advent told us? Jesus will come like a …”
“Like a thief in the night?”
“Exactly. Penance is predictable, and Jesus rose when he said he would— but when he comes it is always at the unexpected time and in an unexpected way. It always feels wrong.”
“And it always feels right, too.”
“Exactly what I was going to write! I mean … say.”
“Called it. And the article better not say whether I’m a son or daughter, either. People figure it out.”
“No problem, offspring.”
[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – How do you feel about Christmas on a Sunday?]