Originally published at The Philadelphia Inquirer
At 5:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve, you’ll find me at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church near 13th and Market Streets. There, cantor T.J. DeLuca’s soul-shaking operatic tenor brings awe and wonder to beloved Christmas hymns, culminating in a soaring recessional of “O Holy Night.”
It’s the highlight of my family’s Advent season — the four weeks of spiritual preparation culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth. A season that also includes the more poignant and nostalgic aspects of the Philly Christmas I grew up with.
This past Sunday, we took in our annual viewing of A Christmas Carol by the Lantern Theater Co. in Philadelphia. The Sunday prior, we were bopping along to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Bucks County Playhouse. Afterward, we journeyed a few towns over to Yardley where we caught a dazzling light show at Shady Brook Farm, just off I-95.
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