Picture this: you are sitting cosy and warm in the picture postcard church, surrounded by your friends, family, neighbours – people you’ve known and trusted all your life. The world is blanketed by snow outside, icicles hang from the eaves but candles beacon warmly in the windows. You arrived early to make sure you got a good seat as you knew the church would be full. It’s seven o’clock and the leader of the christmas service has just stood up into the warm golden glow at the holly wreathed lectern. She smiles at all the people gathered for the ceremony. She is about to begin but pauses at what may have been a scrape of a boot outside. Everyone looks like they’re here so she starts to explain that you may have to share your hymn book because although they borrowed some from down the road there may not be enough to go around. Then there’s a hollow thud. She pauses again and people start to turn, eyebrows slightly raised, a curious smile on their lips as they turn to see what it could be. There’s another more determined thud from the back of the church then a voice ‘I think it’s stuck, wait – let me try…’ and the unmistakable sound of a size nine Kodiak steel toe capped boot clattering against a 150 year old church door, once, twice then -Bang! The third time the door swings open, slamming against the table with the tea urn on it, causing the china to rattle and a sugar spoon to chime onto the flagstone. A swirl of snow follows the cold draught and precedes the entrance of The Jensens.
The boys, having never been in a church before, passed the first test and didn’t burst into flames. As luck would have it the only two seats left, left I suspect not for us but for the two folks who were chaperoning the traffic into the car park, were next to the tables positively groaning with food. To get there on time we had rushed through dinner – ham and avocado pasta. Charlie had refused to even entertain the notion that it was food let alone touch or heaven forbid eat it so the hour that ensued was interspersed with Charlie saying ‘I just want one cake, that one, there, I want to eat it, I’m hungry and it’s mine’ or Evan shouting to fill the peace and reverence of prayer.
It was a lovely ceremony, beautifully carried out with people of all ages getting up and contributing their own part to the story they were celebrating. There was even a bit where all the kids gathered round the front and listened to ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ and another poem written by a local chap about local people. I thought the most inspired part was when Lorna, hosting the event, brought forward the collection of the candy canes which kept the children, well okay, our children, largely quiet during two back to back prayers. Evan was planted firmly on my lap, momentarily pacified by the second chocolate chip cookie passed to him by the wise and wonderful Keeper of the Cakes when a little girl with gorgeous little ringlets of hair and a shiny church best dress sidled up to him and offered him his New Favourtie thing – a candy cane. All was calm, all was quiet, then the sugar hit his system and he started squirming, and wriggling and howling until Laura yoiked him up and fled out the door. Then, with Charlie grasped tight to me, they sang their final hymn – Silent Night. I’m not sure if that was in the program or not.
If anyone from Princeville is reading this firstly let me apologise and offer a word of explanation. You see, they only really behave themselves once or twice a week – who am I kidding – once or twice a month I guess, and I’m afraid that they both behaved impeccably at the West Bay Rd Christmas Tree bash last night. They were so good there that Charlie was chosen to turn on the tree lights with Santa Claus himself! I guess they did have a late night, and they were tired tonight, and, well, they’re Jensens… we do normally come with a warning 🙂