This week Erin Carey who serves with the Benedictine sisters of Eerie, Pennsylvania, blogs.
Christmas at the Mount was an… experience. It was a season of celebrations, new traditions and travel back to the Midwest.
Here are a few highlights from Christmas:
A little taste of all the cookies we made!
At Saint Benedict’s the refugee teachers have been collecting items like winter clothes, electronics, dishes, blankets and home decorations to be able to give to the refugees around Christmas time. One day, the week before Christmas, everyone took a break from the classroom to simply prepare for the give-away celebration. I was part of the cookie baking crew. As groups of students came to the kitchen, we would show them how to roll the sugar cookie dough out, use the cookie cutter to make a design and then scoop it up to put on the tray. After they came out of the oven, we abundantly frosted, iced and sprinkled on the top. We made hundreds of cookies. For many people, it was their first cookie baking experience. We saved them for the next day’s celebration and the students told me, “Today: smell. Tomorrow: EAT!” The next day we feasted on cookies, and each of the refugees got to pick out a few of the give-away items. It was quite the ending to the semester!
After a generous offer from one of the sisters, I decided to try my hand at
Testing out my woodturning skill and looking a little silly…
woodturning. Sister Audrey is an experienced wood turner and a great teacher. Thank goodness! She led me through how to use all of the tools and machines and oils. The wood would spin on the lathe as it carved my design for a candleholder into it. The speed of the machine made me a bit nervous, but I was pleased with my finished products and thankful that Sister Audrey was patient enough to help me.
The Christmas tree in all its glory…
4 hours later all the gifts would be given!
Christmas Eve and Day: We had great meals and liturgies on both days. I love when the dining room and community rooms are filled with people enjoying a good meal together. I also enjoyed watching and participating in the Kris Kringle gift exchange (similar to Advent Angel or Secret Santa). The community room was filled with sisters opening the gifts picked out for them. There were lots of hugs and “thank yous” filling the room. The sisters also did a dance around the Christmas tree before dinner on Christmas Day. We held hands and danced in a circle. There was more specific footwork to which I was oblivious.
My trip home went smoothly and was very refreshing. I got to spend time with my parents, family and friends celebrating Christmas and catching up. Everyone had questions about “those nuns you live with.”
Lake Effect Snow began soon after I made it back to
the Mount. The 20 somethings of the monastery (and a dog) decided to brave the cold on Sunday and took a walk down to the lake. It was windy and chilly, but we found some magnificent icicles, snow covered trees and the beginnings of a frozen lake. It was glorious! Our walk would be a little different now, because the temperature is back to the 40s and 50s and the snow we enjoyed then is now melting away.
After the busyness, celebrations and time away, I’m looking forward to getting back to the more familiar rhythms of life at the Mount!