Happy sixth day of Christmas! I hope you are all enjoying your holidays. I wanted to pop in here to share our 2018 Christmas Card with all of you. For reasons I explained here, I’m redacting a bit of the text, but if you zoom in on the image of the card itself down at the bottom, you can see the top secret parts. 🤫

Also at the bottom, a liturgical living heads up (MANY possible indulgences are coming!), and a little something I’ve been working on over Christmas break.

Fun fact: When Jim and Kendra were dating, they took an improv class together. Memorable moments included the time they “won” the class with their portrayal of a disaffected vacuum cleaner (her) and frustrated carpet owner (him), the one word at a time story (still fun on long car trips), and Yay/Boo. This was kind of a Yay/Boo year for the Tierneys.

We made lots of progress on the house, including designing and executing a painted home chapel, an Adam and Eve-themed laundry closet (after all, laundry IS their fault), and a yard that now features actual green grass and plants! Yay!

The house is not done. It still needs new flooring and bathrooms and a roof, and more work on the chapel, and all the paint and tools that Kendra used to store in the chapel now live in what was supposed to be Jim’s office. Boo!

We went to Ireland! With nine kids and four grandparents! We were particularly excited to attend daily Mass in amazing historic churches, see the storied puffins and monastery of Skellig Michael, enjoy the scenic Slea Head Drive, climb Croagh Patrick as a family, make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, and stay two nights in an actual no-kidding 15th-century stone tower-house castle. Yay!

They don’t seem to DO daily Mass in Ireland anymore. Boo! But the churches were still lovely. You may have heard that it rains a lot in Ireland. This is not an exaggeration. Our puffins and monastery and scenic drive and Croagh Patrick climb were all thwarted by crazy amounts of rain. Boo! But Jack, Bobby, and Kendra did make it to the top of the mountain, and the trip overall and especially Knock and Ross Castle were just extraordinary, and it was such a blessing to be able to experience it all with family.

We went to Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest for Thanksgiving in an RV! Yay! It rained on us there, too. Boo! But it was still amazing, and Nana cooked and served a very impressive Thanksgiving dinner complete with china dinner service, in the tiny RV kitchen.

Jim started a blog! Yay! It’s a xxxxxx blog. Boo! We were all pretty bummed to learn, ten years after we thought all this xxxxxxxx stuff was behind us, that the xxxxxx has been sneakily hard at work this whole time, and expanding operations to include lungs and tracheas. But there really is more yay than boo here. He is in a xxxxxxxx xxxxx, to which he is responding well. Most yay of all, so far he has experienced zero side effects from the xxxxxx or the treatment. Jim’s blog has been a source of inspiration to many and of conversion to a few! To find it click through here (it’s not searchable). He also started a podcast called The Dad Project, available wherever pods are cast. He was invited to serve on the St. Monica Academy Board, and still manages to hold down a job, somehow. If you want a free flu shot at Exer, let him know.

Kendra threw a successful Catholic women’s conference in the backyard for over 200 attendees! Yay! It ALSO poured rain on the conference. Boo! (Next project: build an ark.) Thanks be to God, a friend donated a last-minute tent to cover the tennis court, and all were cozy and dry.

Kendra published her newest book, The Catholic All Year Compendium, to great acclaim! Yay! Such great acclaim that the first printing sold out before the book was even released, and two months and 14,000 copies later, Amazon still can’t figure out how to keep it in stock in their warehouses. Boo! She continues to homeschool and homemake and hang out on her blog and social media platforms, and is currently upping her YouTube game with liturgical living videos.

Jack (16) became a licensed driver last summer, and, to his mother’s great delight, has taken over school driving and grocery shopping. He got a job in construction over summer break, and managed some Honeymooners-level complaining about work, before he had to get back to complaining about school. He informs us that his least favorite moms are Mary Todd Lincoln, Joyce Byers from Stranger Things, and Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. When pressed, he adds that his favorite moms are Jesus’, Beowulf’s, and his own. He made his Confirmation this year, at a Tridentine Mass, with the slap and everything. He made his pub singing debut, bringing down the house in Dublin with his rendition of “By the Rising of the Moon.” He celebrated with a beer afterwards, as he’s the kind of guy who finds out that you can legally drink beer in a pub in Ireland at sixteen if you’re with your parents. He’s playing baseball and basketball for SMA, working on becoming an Eagle Scout, singing in the Schola choir, and Shakespearing it up as Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Hamlet’s Ghost in Hamlet.

Betty (14) is a freshman in high school! She never wanted to leave her tiny, Harry Potter-themed room in Ross Castle. She likes baking fancy stuff she saw on The Great British Baking Show, singing along to Broadway musicals, being on the volleyball team, and spending time with good friends and good books. She amazed herself and everyone else in the family by earning an “A” in math. She is an enthusiastic member of the Schola, and appeared in the chorus of both of the SMA Shakespeare plays.

Bobby (13) makes three teenagers in the Tierney house. He dressed as a Mall Santa for career day at school, and won crazy hair day with his shaved-in tonsure. He was awarded most improved actor for his role as Marcellus in Hamlet, in which he got to say the famous line: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” He played flag football and basketball at school, and is an altar server. Bobby asked for new chicks for his birthday last year, and bees this year. He currently has sixteen chickens and many thousand bees, and is a member of the Los Angeles Beekeepers Association. He caught a baby opossum that he found wandering in the yard, but mom and dad wouldn’t let him keep it. His attempt at backyard falconry with the local Cooper’s Hawks is still in the planning stages.

Gus (11) is in his first year at St. Monica Academy. He won “Most Patriotic” and was given the Ironman award for 6th grade physical fitness at summer camp. He played flag football and is an altar server, and is the family’s “Most Likely to Set Up Catan.” For his birthday, he asked for a nice suit and some “real” shoes, and he had to blow out eleven candles’ worth of candelabras because mom didn’t have any birthday candles in the house. He likes toting his baby brother around in any circumstance in which it might be noticed and commented upon. He up and made a cherry pie from scratch.

Anita (9) is preparing for her upcoming role as Tinkerbell in the Christ the King Homeschool play by writing and directing short productions at home including a recent very dramatic adaptation of Pyramus and Thisbe. Last year’s tooth troubles continue, but she was St. Apollonia for All Saints’ Day, so that’s got to help. She’s doing an excellent job as Head Girl of the Tierney Family School, ushering in an era of more colorful uniforms and plenty of oversight of her fellow students.

Frankie (7) might still favor the little devil on his shoulder when he finds himself with time on his hands, but since his first confession he’s getting better at keeping himself busy. He spent months making melty bead saints, and sold out of them at mom’s conference in twenty minutes. He made his First Holy Communion at the chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock. When he announced his recent communion to the lady behind the counter of a coffee shop, he was rewarded with ten euros and a whole pie. He’s only got one shadow day left before he makes full altar server status at St. Therese.

Lulu (5) is a kindergartner this year. Her likes include sleeping in, illustrating Bible stories, listening to Beatrix Potter, and helping Jack with his homework. Her dislikes include dogs, and pretty much all other animals, but really, really dogs. Her big achievement of 2018 was staying up until midnight for Catholic New Year’s Eve (the night before Advent starts) when JACK didn’t! She and Midge are the very best of friends, and almost always get along. She has also been know to play with Frankie for entire afternoons without punching him. But other times she does.

Midge (3) took a passport photo in which she looks hilariously suspicious of the undertaking. Bobby let her name two of his hens. They are Cinderella and Chicken Pot Pie. For the All Saints’ Day pageant, she dressed up as St. Frances of Rome, or, as Midge calls her, St. Frances the Girl. She’s growing out of all her hilarious toddlerspeak. We miss “puh-partment” for apartment the most. But at least she still says opa-mule for oatmeal.

George (1) is almost always all smiles. (Except on picture day.) He insists on giving Jesus on the crucifix in his room (<cough> storage closet <cough>) a “tiss” every morning, before requesting to go downstairs for a “food snack” (weirdly literal, no?). He adores and is adored by all his siblings, and enjoys walking around with a toy phone saying, “Hi, Lulu. Bye, Lulu.” He likes biting people, but he usually asks first, and you can say no.

We are grateful for your prayers for the coming year, and we’ll keep the guest room pillows fluffed for you! Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

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

Happy Feast of the Holy Family! We Catholics have a few important opportunities coming up, beginning on December 31st. There’s a plenary indulgence available (pursuant to the usual conditions, more on indulgences here) when the Te Deum is recited publicly (meaning in a church, family, religious community, or group of friends) on December 31st, in thanksgiving for the year. There’s also the hymn, Holy God We Praise Thy Name, which is an adaptation of the prayer. Next up is New Year’s Day, which is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and is a Holy Day of Obligation in many countries including the US and Canada. A partial indulgence is available for reciting the Litany of Loreto on this (or any) day. Since it’s also New Year’s Day, there is also a plenary indulgence available when the Veni Creator Spiritus is recited or sung. I’ve linked to the prayers here if you want to click through.

If, however, you’re like me and prefer to have your prayers on paper, I’ve created a printable booklet of ALL the prayers, songs, Bible readings, and devotions that we use throughout the month of January, including the Golden Arrow Prayer, which we’ll be adding to the end of Grace Before Meals all month (for the first time!) in honor of the month of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Check it out here. I hope you’ll find it helpful!

Updated to add: It’s now also available as a paperback book on Amazon! They approved it super fast and it’s available for prime shipping, so you could have it in hand by the Feast of the Holy Name!