Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

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It seemed like a good idea at the time, when Buck and I said we would go to the 3:30 Christmas Eve communion service at Christ Church downtown. This service, called “Family Christmas Eucharist and Blessing of the Creche,” is known as the “child friendly” service amongst the four held on Christmas Eve. But as we rushed around the house all morning and early afternoon, assembling the lasagna and putting up garlands, we began to feel the press of time.

Showered up and bundled, we walked out the door just as an icy rain began to fall.

Persevering, Buck got us safely to a parking space near the church, and by hustling a bit, we made it inside just in time for the first verse of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” sliding into the spaces saved for us by Adele, Richard, Andie, Julia and Darryl. Young Alex was up front in the children’s chorus, the Canterbury Choir.

The old church was filled to the gills with children of all ages. It was noisy, with cries, squeals, coughs, sneezes and laughter, the background noise a constant drone threatening to drown out the rector. One baby, about nine months old, stole the show with her beauty and apparent joy. She was dressed in an ivory satin gown, and wore a Santa-type red and white cap. Her face glowed in that perfect way of warm baby skin. She pushed herself upright on her dad’s knee and made happy baby gurgling sounds. She was the perfect icon of exuberant possibility.

Another child, a boy of about six, felt differently about the situation. His anguished cry broke through in a quiet moment. “But I don’t want to see the baby Jesus!!” Quite naturally, an easy laugh rippled through the room.

My eyes shone, seeing five year old Julia in her soft, shiny red dress with stockings and shoes to match, and Andie was quite the young lady in her lavender and black ensemble. When eight year old Alex was called from the choir loft to assist Father Russell in his magic tricks — oh, the magic tricks done in church are the subject of a separate post! — I could feel Alex’s thrill all the way to our pew.

Buck and I looked at each other and mouthed the words, “this was worth the effort” to each other.

We all converged in the woods after the service, joined by other kids and cousins. Adele brought the marinated shrimp appetizer, Sharon a Greek-style salad, and we matched them up with the lasagna, meatballs and hot bread. Maggie was a one dog welcoming committee.

Over good talk and gift sharing by the fire, we decoded Da Vinci Chianti, and found the meaning of life.

 

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