Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve eve. Cold. Really cold . . . I think; I haven’t stepped outside since yesterday.

I’ve been writing teachers’ guide commentaries for the Adult Bible Study series, a good job to be working at when winter grabs the countryside like it has this year. Today, I was working on a lesson for late December, 2009. The subject was the arrival of the wise men in Bethlehem and the flight into Egypt. A great deal of traveling going on.

Meanwhile, Canada’s airports are clogged, flights late or cancelled and a lot of people are sleeping on airplanes, benches, but not—to my knowledge—in a stable in Bethlehem. Donna Molnar got caught in a snowstorm in her car and was found alive after three days cradled under a snow bank in the Hamilton area, 200 metres from her car. Christmas and travel go together like zipper-skin oranges and Cracker Jacks.

Makes me nostalgic for some Christmases I can barely remember, say in 1950. We rehearsed in school and in church for concerts at which adults gave us bags of candy and peanuts, oranges and Cracker Jacks and we sang the drifting snow spread a robe of white on this beautiful Christmas Eve. And Christmas Eve—after the church concert usually—would be dark and cold and we’d light the candles on the tree in the parlour, eat peanuts and anticipate opening gifts on Christmas morning after the chores were done and breakfast eaten. I can still hear the sound of the poker as my dad banked the fire in the furnace downstairs, still smell the faint odor of coal dust and coal smoke, a promise that although the cold would creep in through the shrunken window sashes and door frames, we would not freeze tonight.

There was no thought of traveling past the Eigenheim Mennonite Church, one mile away.

The passing of the years struck me tonight as I loaded music onto the Mpeg player I gave Agnes for Christmas. It’s just big enough so you wouldn’t swallow it by mistake, but I loaded it with about 50 Christmas songs from our albums and it told me it had room for about 5,000 more. In the late 40’s, my brother bought a waist-high phonograph from a neighbour. We’d crank it up and play scratchy Wilf Carter records. One at a time. Each record weighed at least as much as 10 Mpeg players.

I have no idea what I’m trying to say here, except that I’m getting old enough to break into nostalgia at the drop of a hat.

I want to wish all of you a blessed Christmas season and a hopeful New Year. I finally decided—as I pondered what I might write about the Magi seeking the Christ—that the star is symbolic of our longing for a better world. In the story, they took up to two years to hunt down the child whom their astrological observations seemed to be predicting. Its like Jesus’ parable about a man who finds a treasure in a field, and sells everything he has to buy that field.

Merry Christmas!

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