Monday, December 22, 2008

The Sunday Before Christmas

I’m very pleased to say I have been published again, this time in The Chicago Herald News. To see my article entitled “A Goat By Any Other Name Still Would Not Smell Sweet” please click here

Today was a bit of a strange day actually. Having spend such a lovely day yesterday I don’ t know why I felt so low, but I think it was just the feeling you get when you realise that Christmas isn’t all jingle bells and mistletoe, and that sad things still happen. I was missing my parents today and as this is the first Christmas since I lost them both (although it is the second without Dad), I had a good old cry. This left the 21st Century Husband and Teenager feeling more than a little at a loss as I very rarely cry – unfortunately this means that when I do, it’s usually quite dramatic.

I decided to fight my melancholy with tradition, which I always find to be very comforting. So I nipped down the road to the grocery store and got a turkey crown (just the breast) so that I could make a lovely roast dinner. We then decided to go to church for a carol service of some description. We were spoiled for choice as there are several churches near us, all holding services this evening. I was after something very old fashioned and traditional, so I was very pleased to find a service of Nine Lessons and Carols at the church of St James the Less in Pangbourne. Nine Lessons and Carols is a service often held before Christmas and consists – as you would expect – of nine “lessons” or readings from the Bible, and nine carols. I’ve loved it ever since I was a young girl, when I was allowed to light the candles during one of these services at school. I felt extraordinarily grown up being charged with this responsibility, especially as the candles were on candelabras at the ends of the pews and so high up that I had to stand on the pews to actually light them. I’m quite glad I was not sitting underneath any of those I lit though as I remember feeling distinctly unsteady! In later years I began to find the service beautiful for reasons other than that it made me feel grown up, in particular the beautiful readings and carols, and also for how it tells the story of Jesus come to earth.

So, I popped the turkey in the oven and got everything else ready to cook when we got back so that we could head off for the service which was being held at 6pm. First we had to find the church – and although we have lived near Pangbourne for over a year – we were not sure exactly where it was. We did find it quite easily though and I was pleased to find it was very beautiful – old and traditional –which was just what I was hoping for. To see a photograph, please click here. It was lit with candles for the service and the inside reminded both the 21st Century Husband and I of the church we were married in, St Nicholas Church in Chislehurst. It was also beautifully decorated and smelled of pine from the huge Christmas tree at the back. Perfect.

I wanted traditional and that is exactly what I got. The service was from the old order of service, with lots of thees and thous and everything I remember from when I was a kid. Having said that it was not at all stuffy, and there were lots of children both attending and participating in the service. The choir sang beautifully and the whole service was so joyful and comforting. We left feeling not only very Christmassy, but also incredibly centred and blessed.

On arriving home, we opened the door to the wonderful smell of turkey and after a few last minute preparations we sat down to a delicious meal. By now I was feeling so grateful for all the blessings I have I was able to smile at my good memories of the parents I miss so much instead of feeling weepy. I can see this becoming a tradition the last Sunday before Christmas – a service of Nine Lessons and Carols followed by a turkey dinner. It works for me, and I’m sure to have no objections from the 21st Century Husband or the 21st Century Teenager!

It definitely feels like Christmas now.

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