Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Happens/MANN

Christmas has many layers for me: Spiritual and physical; relational and reconciling; unions and reunions; giving and receiving—experiencing God’s presence being the most significant of all my presents. I was raised with all the farm trimmings of Christmas: horse and cutter, cutting the tree in the back bush, the black mare drawing it up to the house on a stone boat, setting it up in the ‘front room’ - a place we never used in the winter.

The farm kitchen would smell like Christmas for a week, with the scent of roast goose, dressing, fruit cake and plum pudding. And over several days through the holidays, family and friends would come and go. For me, Christmas is a season rather than a day, so it’s been easy for me through the years to weave a busy church life in with family activities.

As our adult children had their own families, we graduated to having our Christmas Family Dinner early in the month. This way, the grandchildren could stay at home with their new toys on the day. As clergy, I’d visit the local hospital and nursing homes, always aware of the sorrow of separation and loss during this time of the year. I was often reminded of the many lonely people who suffered through the season of Christmas and families who would never gather around a festive dinner table. Remembering the Christmas of my youth, it would not have been uncommon for my mother to fill a few plates with Christmas dinner to share with neighbours.

Houses, through their Christmas decorations or lack of them, are often similar to families in reflecting the good news of the season. This was on my mind as my husband and I recently took possession of a hundred-year-old house in a historic village an hour south of us. Although the farmhouse in which we live is appropriately decorated in traditional century style, I couldn’t help thinking of the quiet, dark house sitting in the midst of a lively, celebrative neighbourhood through this Christmas season. I had shared this concern with several of my friends, but I didn’t do anything about it as the hours in the day were not long enough to spread between two properties.

A few days ago, my husband and I drove to the newly acquired house to do some work. Before he turned the car into the driveway—I saw it. A large green spruce garland looped along the front veranda railing with golden, laced bows at each end and a larger one in the middle. A comparable wreath hung on the front door reflective of the unending circle of God’s love, while drawing attention to the hospitality soon to be evident beyond that door.

Christmas happens in different ways. For in this present from an anonymous friend who knew my heart’s desire, I saw the unmistakeable gift of God’s presence in this act of friendship.

Donna Mann
Aggie’s Storms (2007) Aggie’s Dream (2010) The young years of the first woman elected to The House of Commons, Ottawa.
WinterGrief (2003) A personal response to death
Meadowlane Children’s MP3/PDF based on the Fruit of the Spirit and Virtues present in a child’s life


Peter Black said...

Donna, what a warm dip into the barrel of nostalgia from Christmases past and family tradition, complete with a look through the telescope of vision for similar blessings in the future!

Donna Mann said...

Thanks Peter. I guess that's one of the blessings of being old enough to reflect back . . . something I always enjoy doing.

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