“Come into the world to settle accounts of losses,
to take an empty seat among us at the table.
Once again, let us enjoy the child in us…
(from “Carols for the Absent by Z. Preisner)
One of the customs of the Christmas Eve supper is to set an extra plate for an unexpected guest or a lonely person.
In our community in Świnoujście, this symbolic empty place was occupied by three people this year: Mrs. Barbara – a lonely elderly parishioner, and little Viktoria with her grandmother from Ukraine. The girl and her grandmother experienced Christmas Eve for the first time according to the Catholic tradition, i.e. with reading a fragment from the Holy Bible, sharing the wafer and singing carols. Viktoria experienced this meeting all week, asking every morning “when will Saturday be”. Grandma was happy and touched and willingly talked about the Ukrainian supper and tried every prepared Christmas Eve dish with reverence.
Mrs. Barbara also could not control her tears and repeated how happy she was that she was not alone that evening and was celebrating in such a solemn way.
After dinner, there was the moment Viktoria had been waiting for the most – the presents. All the sisters and ladies received gifts, but Viktoria received the most gifts (we know from the post-Christmas report that after coming home she spread everything on the floor and said: “Oh, I don’t know where to start”).
It was a joyful and friendly Christmas Eve. We thank God that this year the “empty seat at the table” was not just a tradition, but became a reality for us; that Jesus was born through love in our hearts.
Sisters from Świnoujście