A week later it was Christmas Eve. Everyone stopped harvesting early that night and all the people from the district, men, women and children went down to the little church in the valley. They did it every year. They'd been doing it as long as he could remember, and he hoped they would always keep on doing it as long as he lived. For there was something about Christmas that made him feel different, almost as if he wanted to cry. The great Christmas tree rose up almost to the ceiling of the church, gleaming and sparkling with light near the steps of the altar. And when it was ablaze with hundreds of pretty candles it was as if fairyland and heaven had combined. In front of it sat the children, rows and rows of them, their faces bright from the light of the tree and the eyes brighter from their own radiance, nearby stood the little tableau of Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus in his crib of straw in the stable — straw that seemed somehow to fit so naturally into the pattern of their own lives in the harvest season. Soon the organ started playing, and the people sang then as they never did for the rest of the year: the fine old carols that meant Christmas and nothing but Christmas — 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' and 'The First Noel' and 'Silent Night'. The children sang too — special songs and items of Christmastide — and the pastor read again the story of the shepherds and the coming of the angel.
Then all the children filed past the tree to receive a gift and a great bulging bag of Christmas lollies before everyone went out into the mild summer night. And there was peace on earth and goodwill among men. The stars fairly glittered in the night sky and the land lay still and dark and quiet right up to the crests of the hills. Outside the church the people shook hands and laughed and gave each other Christmas wishes. Bruno thought it was wonderful for people to be so happy. Then at lays they began to trickle off home, some walking and some driving, to their own little Christmases in the parlours and the dining rooms, where there were still more Christmas trees with parcels to be unwrapped and shouts of glee and thanks and the lighting of candles and the singing of carols. And finally there were bottles of hop beer from the cellar and good things to eat and new presents to try out and a happy going to bed because tomorrow was Christmas Day.
Bruno fairly sang with the happiness of that Christmas. They went off to church again next morning, and although the great tree seemed strangely subdued after the glory of the previous night, the church was still full of its spirit, and the message and the music were still the same. Then there was a huge Christmas dinner, with Mum for once completely relaxed behind her mountains of food, and the boys fairly rolling wand wallowing with ham, turkey and Christmas pudding so that, after the washing-up, everyone had to lie down and sleep it off for an hour. Everyone except Brino. He couldn't bear to be idle when there were so many new things to test and explore. At last the others began to appear again; Mum organised the milking squad because of Christmas Day everyone helped with the milking except Dad, who of course was never called upon to do such a thing; and then the whole family went off to Obst's, where the Gunthers and the Geisters and the Scholzes had been invited for a mammoth Christmas tea.
Colin Thiele, The Sun on the StubbleI want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Safe, Healthy and Blessed New Year. Thank you for reading A Peaceful Day, and thank you, especially, for being my wonderful friends. I appreciate you all so very much, and look forward to learning more about you and your thoughts on things dear to your hearts in the New Year.
It's Christmas Eve. It has begun! We're doing the things that we do every year, and like Bruno, I hope we keep doing them as long as I live, because Christmas is special to me too, and I love the way it makes me feel, and the way people are nicer to each other, somehow, and how people sing more, and give special, thoughtful gifts to each other, and smile a lot. And then there is the food. Oh my! The food.
May God bless you all this festive season.
With lots of love
Jeanne and family. xxx