Our two Christmas Eve Services
We went from one to two services this year, by popular demand. It was a good move. The early service was sung by the Youth Choir, who did those two perennial favorites, "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" with a sophomore accompanying them on snare drum, and his mother playing the triangle. It was fabulous. More than fabulous. It was worshipful! The church was crowded, and the mood was merry and solemn all at once, and the children who came forward for the Children's Message included a family for whom it was the first visit. A three year old essentially narrated the service... "What's happening now? Why did she do that? When do we light the candles? Can I have some of the bread and juice?"
The second service was smaller, but no less lovely, with our Chancel Choir singing. The only difference aside from music was the absence of a Children's Message. But the most holy moment for me, at each service, was that moment following communion, when the lights were dimmed and everyone held a lit taper, and we sang "Silent Night," after which I read:
234In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.I cannot get over it. I get to do this for a living. Was anyone ever so blessed?
I began the day with a friend, Larry and Petra being at their dad's house overnight (since I was working until almost 1 AM, that seemed only fair). They arrived home at 1 PM, and the tearing of paper commenced. From me, Larry got a beautiful mahogany acoustic guitar, and he lovedlovedlovedloved it... literally, didn't put it down except to eat and go to bed late that night. I think Petra loved her big gift as well-- a very good amp for her many musical gigs!
We ate a wonderful meal of homemade pasta and meatballs, a great favorite around my house, and while it was cooking we all watched that quintessential Christmas film, "The Ref." For anyone who's skeptical about the Normal Rockwell view of Christmas and it's attainability... this film's for you. Seriously. Not for kids. Hilarious. And love triumphs. What else do you need?
The Two Days After That
Oh, if you could see my house. It is so beautifully clean and Christmasy! Too bad I'm not there any longer. I cleaned and cleaned, and enlisted the services of my children to clean and clean. I even cleaned out one of those scary hall closets from which things leap out at you. Cleaning for me is always like opening a time capsule. That's sad, but it's the truth. I found dear tiny gloves from when Larry and Petra were little tykes. I found a Razor (one of those scooter-type things that were so popular). I found bags and bags of yarn and materials, convincing me that I must use it all up or give it away SOON. (I am knitting Petra a sweater and Larry a scarf and a dear little hat for a new baby I know).
Friday was spent shopping and cooking.
Saturday there was a disconcerting memorial service... filled with people none of whom, evidently, are convinced of the merits of opening their mouths when in a church. Every hymn? A solo by yours truly. Every responsive reading? Ditto. (I personally thanked the two people whom I did see moving their mouths during hymns).
I then returned home to continue cooking. When my staff arrived with their families beginning at 4 PM they found:
- Chips and Salsa
- Drunken Pot Roast (Recipe: Brown beef. Add Chianti all day long. Enjoy!)
- Vegetarian Lasagne (Recipe: a 1980 issue of Cosmopolitan. The good ones are timeless, I tell you.)
- Green Rice (So-called because of the presence of much parsley. Recipe given to my mother in 1972 by a woman who made her feel incredibly inferior. Recipe signed, "Fondly, Madalyn")
- A Huge Salad
- 3 Dozen Dinner Rolls, Courtesy of that Pudgy Dough Boy
- A Plate of Greek Pastries (A Gift)
- 2 Dozen Brown Sugar Brownies (Recipe: Make brownies. Substitute Brown Sugar for half of White)
- 2 Dozen Chocolate Chip Cooke Bars
- 2 Bottles of Ruffino Chianti
- 2 Bottles of Cavit Pinot Grigio
- 2 Gallons of Local Apple Cider
"There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer."
Well, OK, not quite. But it was lovely.
If I do say so myself.