Monday evening, 22 December 2008, Hanukkah. Well, Hanukkah really began last night at sunset, but it goes for 8 days. For Christians, this is the fourth week of Advent and Christmas is only a couple of days away, and I am mostly ready I guess.  Most of the family will be here for Xmas Dinner at noon on Christmas Day, and I am almost ready to start cooking.   Actually, some of the prep work begins tomorrow for that meal.  The last several days have been cold, very cold.  I don’t think the temperature managed to make it above 20 F today.  And I went Xmas shopping:  Toys for Charlie and gift cards for all else!  A trip that normally should have taken an hour, took two, and traffic was dreadful.  I just despise driving on the high commercial side of town anyway, and today did nothing other than reinforce that attitude.

Christmas cards this year have brought some interesting things, family genealogy wise.  First and foremost were some digital picture print outs from a distant cousin of gravestones of our shared ancestor in North Carolina, including the gravestone of my 3′rd greatgrandfather, Michael Stroup.  His father appears to have served in the Revolutionary War as a member of the continental line, an item of which I wasn’t aware.  The number of ancestors who served the colonies in that war continues to stack up.

On a related note, pun not really intended, I recently received word that I match, through Y DNA, a gentleman in NC, at a genetic distance of 1 from me on the 37 marker test.  (We perfectly match on both the 12 and 25 marker tests). He is also a genetic distance of 2 from the J26 line, whereas I am at a genetic distance of 1 from J26.  He descends from William Smith McAlister and William’s second wife.  William’s first wife was Susan McAlister, a granddaughter of J26 himself.  I figured that he would match up, since my great great Grandfather James (J45) was the bondsman for William Smith and Susan in 1843.  The Clan McAlister Journal, winter 2008 edition, came today, full of articles and news of American McAlisters and their genealogy.  It will give me some good reading for a few days.

Work has generated a couple of paying projects that look to be forthcoming.  I truly hope so, it’s been a long time since my last pay check in June.  They will keep me busy in the next few weeks I think.

So Christmas is upon us.  As a singer, it is quite a busy time.  I am singing both the 4 PM and the Midnight Eucharists, with several solos each service.  And then, two days later, niece Jenna is getting married to long time boyfriend Rick.   I am Psalmist for that service, but not Cantor, thankfully. 

Yesterday, I was priviledged to see the Christmas Lessons and Carols from the National Cathedral in DC.  The choirs were beautiful of course, and they sang a few carols that I truly love:  Sussex Carol  and A New Work Has Come on Hand by Peter Wishart.   Samuel Lloyd, the Cathedral Dean, and one of my favorite preachers,  gave a really fine reflection as well.  And on Christmas Eve morning at 9AM, I hope to hear once again, the Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols live from King’s College at Cambridge (England).  That service always gets me in the proper mood for Christmas, and offers a steady base from which to launch the frenetic schedule I will have between church and family for the next some days.

I have been working on my next major preaching/teaching presentation which is slated at St. Mary on 7 January, 2009.     for the church’s site.   I am in a bit of a panic about it now, given my schedule between now and then.  But with prayer and more preparation, I am sure it will come out OK. 

Regards and best wishes to all in this season.

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