Much of what we read last month about the opposition to public displays of Christmas was largely irksome and petty. In some circles, for example, it is impermissible to bring red or green cookies to a "Holiday" party.

Just before Christmas, in one of those quiet moves governments make when everyone's attention is somewhere else, Health Minister Tony Clement announced the membership of the new board to run the Assisted Human Reproduction Canada agency. It has been a long time coming.

The announcement of who would be the next archbishop of Toronto has been much anticipated, not least by Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic himself. At almost 77, he gets a well-deserved rest after labouring 30 years as bishop in that Lord's vineyard we call the archdiocese of Toronto.

"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls."

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

As seasonal celebrations wind down, the decorations are packed away and people get back to their routines, it's not uncommon to feel disappointment — a symptom of what's known as "the post-holiday blues."

Sometimes politicians have a rather exalted sense of their own authority. Witness the comments in the aftermath of the vote in the House of Commons Dec. 7 over same-sex marriage.

At this year's Midnight Mass we read Luke's famous nativity account in which the shepherds in the field first hear the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ from an angel: "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people." Christians recognize that it was indeed good news, but sometimes it is easy to forget it was for "all the people."

Myroslaw Tataryn, theologian, priest and acting president of St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo, made a personal note in his annual Christmas card that this coming celebration will be a "first Christmas" for our family and times such as these are special. He meant, of course, that this Christmas will be a first for us in a new home and in a new city and that we should mark it as such.

In 1985, Bishop James Doyle sent me to the faculty of education of the University of Toronto where I had a wide range of facilitators and assignments. My psychology professor, Dr. Kong, provided a challenging assignment that proved spiritually fulfilling and blessed my Christmas experience that year.

In 1985, Bishop James Doyle sent me to the faculty of education of the University of Toronto where I had a wide range of facilitators and assignments. My psychology professor, Dr. Kong, provided a challenging assignment that proved spiritually fulfilling and blessed my Christmas experience that year.

 Christmas at Grandma's — widowed as long as my kids have known her — has always been a special time. Numerous traditions are an integral part of the experience.

On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the dogmatic bull Ineffabilis Deus. In it he stated, "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, saviour of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin." Since then, Catholics have celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception each year on the anniversary.