Last night we went to the Christmas Eve service at the Portland Unitarian Church. With a couple of exceptions, I’ve been at this service every Christmas Eve for the last 18 years. In recent years it has gotten more crowded and full of faces that aren’t familiar, but it affirms the coming of Christmas Day in my heart more deeply than any last-minute shopping trip or the stuffing of stockings.
It is a candlelight service, although we only get to light our candles in the last five minutes, as we sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” from our seats (in the hopes that keeping the congregants seated will minimize the inherent hazzard of 400 people with lit candles). The minister never fails to remind us all to take care once our candles are aflame and to remember to keep them away from hair, scarves and orders of service. My mom and I hold hands as we sing, hissing once in a while, as an errant drip of hot wax escapes through the bottom of the paper protector.
After the service is one of my favorite parts of the experience, because there are frequently people there who were integral parts of my growing up years. It’s always a joy to see Ameena (who I’ve known since the age of 9) or Helen (who has helped organize the bell choirs since the late 1970’s). People come with new partners, new babies and wonderful careers (Tegan is a professional softball player in Holland).
I hope everyone has had a wonderful day. Merry Christmas!