My father wasn't a church-goer. He would drop us off at St. Mary's church in Clinton NY on Sunday mornings, and we would often walk down to Holland Farms for a doughnut afterwards, and meet him there. I moved on to riding my bike to church, some weeks, and later we enjoyed attending Mass at Hamilton College, where the atmosphere was casual.
When I was in high school, my mother worked two nights a week at the Lutheran Home, a residential care facility. She didn't drive, and one of us had to drop her off, but that is another story. She would volunteer to work the 11-7 shift on Christmas Eve to allow the other nurses with younger children to be at home. Around that time we started to enjoy Midnight Mass at Christmas and Dad participated. Was it because I didn't have my license yet?
You might think that with students on the holiday break there would not be a Mass at the college. For some reason, Christmas remained on the schedule and there always seemed to be a good crowd. There would be candles, and someone played the organ. I remember one year that we got a significant snowfall during the time we were inside. It was magical to come out to the sparkling darkness with carols in our ears.
After the first year, I am pretty sure that it was the promise of breakfast with the Burns family in Franklin Springs that kept Dad coming, but it was a special time of togetherness for me.
(I'd like to credit the photo, but clicking it took me to an unsavory web site, so I'll just leave it at a google image search)