Usually I can sneak a Christmas blog post in during the Christmas octave, or before Epiphany, or at the VERY latest before the Baptism of the Lord, and get to say, hey it’s late but it’s STILL Christmas! Even *I* think it’s pushing it now, but watch me try.

On the current liturgical calendar, Christmas itself is an octave that runs from Evening Prayers on Christmas Eve through the eve of the solemnity of Epiphany, and the Christmas liturgical season runs through the Baptism of the Lord (usually the next Sunday). Then it becomes Ordinary Time. But on the pre-1969 calendar, rather than a period of ordinary time between Christmas and Lent, there was Christmas, then “time after Epiphany,” then “pre-Lent,” then Lent. This time after Epiphany, while technically ordinary time with green vestments, was considered to be part of the Christmas “cycle” before the Lent cycle began. Candlemas on February 2nd marked the transition between the two, and meant that it was the really, no kidding, last day to take down your Christmas decorations and start your pre-game for Lent. Today, some folks leave out just their nativity sets, as a nod to the Christmas cycle of old, until Candlemas. That’s what we like to do.

So, with that rather meager justification, I will go ahead and share the Tierney Family Christmas card with you fine folks now, in case you didn’t get the paper version (which DID go out during the octave!).

Stay tuned after the card for a bit MORE on Candlemas!

Dear Family and Friends,

When it rains, it pours, or so the saying goes. The last couple of months have been rather a downpour, so it seemed perfectly appropriate when the day we scheduled to take this year’s photo was the same! 2019 began with a pretty usual amount of chaos around here, Jim was continuing his work as COO of Exer Urgent Care, as a member of the board of St. Monica Academy, and as a blogger and expert dad podcaster. Kendra was growing a baby, writing and publishing a series of monthly prayer booklets and liturgical living videos, and heading up the Tierney Family Homeschool. 

Baby Barbara Josephine arrived on September 4th, missing by two days the opportunity to be born on her due date AND on Labor Day, which probably bothered her mother more than it should have. But other than that, all was well, and we managed to come home from the hospital the day she was born. She accompanied mom on a little public speaking tour and an appearance on EWTN. Her older siblings had school and sports and theater and time outs and playing outside and bee keeping and chicken wrangling and needing haircuts and not being able to find shoes. Pretty standard stuff. Then came November. <Insert ominous music.> 

Wednesday the 6th, George seemed a bit under the weather. Thursday the 7th, he couldn’t keep anything down, so that afternoon we took him to Exer. They sent us to the ER. The whole way, all his mother could think about was how very inconvenient it was to have to go to the ER when surely they’d just tell us he had a stomach bug and send us home. Instead they admitted him to intensive care and ordered a lumbar puncture. He was determined to have meningitis. Meningitis is really a location, and can be caused by many different infections. George’s infection was bacterial, and the bacteria were Haemophilus influenzae, also known as H. flu. This is NOT what we know as “the flu,” that’s a virus.

The most common strain of H. flu is b. He has been fully vaccinated against that strain with the Hib vaccine. But his was caused by type a. H. flu type a is not uncommon, and it’s likely that any of us have it in our noses at any given time. If it does cause an infection, it’s usually of the ears or sinuses. George had the bad luck to have it cross the blood brain barrier and infect the lining of his brain. He had a full course of IV antibiotics, some serious pain killers, and a very moving anointing, but it was over a week before he was able to eat or talk. After another week he was over the infection, but still weak and suffering from a lack of balance and coordination. He was transferred to another hospital for three weeks of inpatient rehab.

During the course of George’s five week hospital stay we had two sets of grandparents and two aunts come to stay with us to help. We had friends drive big kids to events and home from school, and entertain middle kids at their homes and ours. We had meals delivered and rosaries said for us for 37 days straight. We had priests and godparents and friends visit us in the hospital. We were supported with love and prayers from friends and strangers all over the world. We will always be in the debt of all of you. Thank you so much and may God reward you.

Jack (17) is a senior this year, and was elected student body president with the slogan “Tierney is the best form of government.” He participated in the USNA Summer Seminar, and hopes to attend as a midshipman in the fall. He is on the basketball and baseball teams, sings in the Schola, played Jonathan Brewster/Freddy Kruger in a slightly 80s Arsenic and Old Lace and the title role in Julius Caesar, was recognized as a Coolidge Senator by the Calvin Coolidge Foundation, and can do pushups with four younger siblings on his back. If you’ll allow a moment of sappiness in his last year at home, he is a very good young man, and a credit to his family and community.

Betty (15) is a candy striper at Huntington Hospital, which is especially convenient since we spend so much time there anyway. She was a summer camp counselor, sings in the Schola, was in both plays, and helped found the SMA Yell Crew this year. Upon presenting herself at the DMV to get her learner’s permit, it was determined that she should get glasses instead, but she talked her parents into contacts.

Bobby (14) made the varsity practice squad for basketball and the team for baseball and is the freshman class representative. He was murdered in Julius Caesar (but who wasn’t?). After getting his hunting license, he bagged two pheasants on a hunting trip with Uncle Bryan. He wears prescription pants. As in, the only school approved uniform supply shop doesn’t make pants in 28×34, so dad got a doctor friend to write him a prescription for non-approved pants.

Gus (12) also got his hunting license, but, alas, no pheasants. He headed this summer’s family lemonade stand business, netting over $800. He played flag football and basketball and had solos in two middle school choir performances. He is just charming enough to get himself back out of trouble with his teachers.

Anita (10) is still living the dream as head girl of the Tierney Family School. She will happily wear any visiting baby offered to her, and has an excellent record of getting them to sleep. She performed in two CTK plays, and was slightly disappointed not to have been “discovered” on her trip with mom to the EWTN studios.

Frankie (8) continues to be quite a handful, but is very good with his younger siblings. He really enjoyed his visiting days in the hospital with George, and, when George couldn’t yet sit up, Frankie came up with a knocking toy soldiers over with a ball game that impressed the hospital physical therapists. He made a dozen model St. Francises out of melty beads for this year’s Fiat Conference, then walked around the yard inquiring for attendees with sons named Francis and insinuated that the religious upbringing of said sons would be in danger without one of the models. It was an effective sales technique.

Lulu (6) has to be restrained from sitting down and doing the whole year of math worksheets in one go, which has made getting caught up on school work much easier than it would have been otherwise. She’s dear and sunny and sweet. She’s the family’s best sleeper, unloader of the dishwasher, and team Jack cheerleader.

Mary Jane (4) enjoys “cuddling” by which she means being within one foot of a person. At a Halloween party we attended as a family, she announced, “We’ve had enough candy, and it’s time to go home.” Her favorite schooltime activity is cutting pieces of paper into much smaller pieces of paper.

George (2) was a very good sport about his hospitalization, but also, ya know, was two. Occupational Therapist: Reach forward and get that sticker. George: You can do it. OT: It’s therapy, *you’re* supposed to do it. George: <looking at sticker> It’s not therapy. It’s Spider-Man. He’s made great progress, and is sitting well on his own, and walking well with assistance. We don’t expect him to have long term effects from his illness.

Barbara (3 months) didn’t note the irony of being hustled out of the hospital hours after her birth only to spend over a third of her life in two others. She also wasn’t able to appreciate the kind of compliments that medical professionals give out. Neurologist: What a cute baby. She has such good eye contact. Physical Therapist: What a cute baby. She has such good head control. We all think she’s pretty great too.

Love and Christmas wishes to all of you from the Tierneys,

Jim, Kendra, Jack, Betty, Bobby, Gus, Anita, Frankie, Lulu, Midge, George, and Barbara

P.S. Speaking of Candlemas . . .

Candlemas / the Presentation of the Lord is coming up on Feb 2nd! Here’s a quick look at what we do to celebrate, from a video we made last year. Candlelight makes everything seem fancy.

The Catholic All February prayer booklet is available as a printable here.

And as a paperback here.

I get our 51% beeswax candles here. 51% beeswax is NOT required for religious use in the home, and they’re definitely pricier than standard candles, but they smell lovely and last longer, and I like that they feel special. A box of 36 tapers lasts us through candlelight dinners all year.

Ignatius has been generous enough to sponsor these videos! The Ignatius Press coupon code CAY1219 for 25% off Jesse Box components is good through the end of Feb. Check out this very cool set for a great way to introduce kids to stories from the Bible in an interactive way. More info on the Jesse Box here.

Okay, that’s it for tonight. Fingers crossed for an uneventful home life and more time for blogging in 2020!