Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 12 Blogs of Christmas - Day 1

Why "The 12 Blogs of Christmas"? Probably from my love of all things Christmas, and probably from my frustration with our media-and-mall-based Christmas celebrations.

For those who follow the church calendar, you know that December 25 is not the end of the Christmas season - it's just the beginning. What follows are the infamous "12 Days". They end on January 6 with Epiphany, a.k.a. the arrival of the 3 wise guys. In British traditions, this is also a time of visiting friends, sharing time with family, burning yule logs, and other festive merriments.

So, I'm going to write every day for the next 12 days, sometimes to talk about what I'm up to, and sometimes, just for the festive merriment of it all!

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations were all just fantastic! Christmas Eve afternoon, Gerald and I did our last Victorian Carolling gig of the season. It was a mini-concert in a seniors home. The crowd wasn't as boisterous as some, but you could tell they had a deep appreciation for the music, and we felt very embraced by them.

At 6:15pm, we arrived back at St. John's Weston to prepare for the first of our 2 Christmas Eve services. Both services were the same, which meant we only had to practice one set of songs, but with the carolling gig, it still made for a long day of singing.

The first service was packed to capacity. I opened things with "O Holy Night", verses one and three, accompanied by piano. I felt very good about it, and was surprised by the spontaneous round of applause. The entire service just flowed from there with great congregational singing and lots of positive energy. Dad preached a marvelous sermon about finding meaning in the physical symbols of Christmas. As the final part of the message, Gerald and I sang "My Heart is the Manger". Gerald wrote this song after hearing Dad's Christmas sermon last year, so it was only fitting to do it this year. We worked it up into a duet, and I think it went really well.

The church was full of candles. Not only did they have 3 white tapers in tall candelabras on the end of each pew, but they also had sconces, also with 3 white tapers, lining the walls of the sanctuary. More candles decorated the choir stalls and the altar area. The Christmas tree was lit with white mini-lights. The creche was light with a small spotlight. Near the end of the service, each person in attendance was given a taper, they turned out all the lights, and we sang 'Silent Night'. Stunning!

In between services, we had a little rest, and got to chat with some of the choir members. At 10 o'clock, we did it all over again. The crowd was much smaller this time, but I think the whole service was actually better - Perhaps because it was our second time out, or perhaps because we were actually getting closer to the day, maybe even the actual minute, that God came to Earth.

(Yes, I know academics believe Jesus was born in the spring, but I'm having a Christmas moment here, people!)

Christmas Day was wonderful! We gathered with friends and family, some who had travelled from as far as New Brunswick to be here. We ate incredible food, shared hearty laughs, and gave generous hugs.

And today, Boxing Day, has been a self-appointed day of rest and relaxation. No shopping. No noise. Just quiet chats, hours of reading, and opening each and every box of chocolates we got for Christmas!

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