Seven Fish, One Light

by Dec 10, 2021A Traditional Christmas, Christmas 2021, Devotional

Seven Fish, One Light

As an adult, many of my Christmas Eves were spent with my wife and children at our small, local church service. The kids and I would hang up our coats, grab a candle out of the box, and proceed to the pew closest to the piano. As the kids sat in the pew, I would join my wife on the piano bench. When it came time for Silent Night, the lights would dim as we lit our candles. From our perch at the piano, there was something about looking out at the lit candles of the congregation joining the light that never went out – the one on the cross. At home afterwards, we would enjoy Christmas cookies and appetizers before cuddling up to watch a Christmas movie. We ended our evening by reading the Christmas story. It was a happy tradition, our own silent night, but it was very different than the Christmas Eves I had as a child.

When I was growing up, we celebrated Christmas Eve with my dad’s large Italian family. There were what seemed like hundreds of relatives – some of whom we only saw on Christmas Eve. Given the endless amount of food, my aunt must have started cooking in October. We normally started the meal with a first course of either mussels or clams. Next came my personal favorite: octopus dressed in oil and red wine vinegar. The main course was always an exquisitely prepared baccala (salted cod). After the main meal, the adults would engage in loud conversations punctuated with laughter while the kids adjourned to the living room to watch football or Christmas shows until they called us for dessert. And, oh, the desserts! Cannoli, Italian cookies, Jordan almonds, and the rock hard homemade almond candy – well worth the wait.

It was only recently that I learned that the meal was called the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian American celebration of the birth of Jesus. It’s been speculated that the number seven represents the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church or the seven virtues or even the seven Hills of Rome. There is no general agreement on the representation of the number seven, just as there is no general agreement on the best way to spend Christmas Eve. Large gatherings of extended family with wondrous food and cacophonous laughter are opposite yet equal to the joyous but peaceful celebrations with my wife and children.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). However we celebrate, loudly or quietly, let us not forget who and why we do.

Jesus, The Hope of the World

Hope. It’s so easy to lose but so generously available. We need hope. In a world where uncertainty and disillusionment are mixed into the air we breathe, we need a fresh perspective. For centuries people hoped for the coming Messiah—Jesus, the Savior of the world. He...