The day has passed quietly as we prepare for Christmas. Now, a few minutes before sunset, we are finishing tasks. Jennie sings for two services this evening at the UU church. I’ll go to one and join hundreds of others in lighting a candle to the turning year. Tomorrow, Christmas, the day will be noticeably longer; somehow our awareness marks the addition of a minute or two of sunlight to the day.
When I lived in New Mexico, Christmas eve was celebrated with luminaries which sprang up everywhere in our small village at dusk. Our house sat high above the village, so we could look down over innumerable points of light, beacons leading the Child to homes and the Orthodox church. Beyond the village rose the Santa de Christo mountains. Often the landscape was snow-covered, reflecting the last rays of sun and the glowing luminarias. Soon after sunset we could hear the organ playing in the church. Perhaps they celebrated the Western Christmas along with their Catholic counterparts. Across the mountains and through the valleys came echos of ancient days, long before the arrival of the Friars and the priests.
Now, across our snow and ice filled landscape the Adirondacks are obscured by fog from the lake. Snow flakes filter down, the thinnest of lake effect showers. The low light of late afternoon wanes further, a hint of sunset appears high above the lake. The birds are on the feeder for their last meal of this cold day. The squirrels who have been missing lately are scavenging below the feeders.
We are a blended family: Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, agnostic, Native. Still we come together for Christmas, the message of hope resonating across belief and culture. We remember those who face hardship, suffering, and violence. We play games, eat, open presents, and often go out for Chinese.
Tonight we will sing, light candles, and wait. May your night pass safely and your morrow be filled with joy, love, and light.