Recommended Christmas Story

It’s been a frantic week of shop keeping and baking and carol singing. It’s been good, but frantic, and during yesterday’s duties I felt particularly as if I was moving in a slow, creaking gear. “Little smiles and little tears are all we’ve brought” was the line that repeated itself in my brain. It was my line, the only thing I could offer to anyone.

It’s the line from the poem “How Far is it to Bethlehem?” by Frances Chesterton. The line is the one Elizabeth Yates uses in her lovely Christmas story “On That Night.”

This morning I was part of the city market crew, to sell cakes, bread, and scones. I learned again that I am solar powered, and can sell things well. If the sun shines, anything is possible and everything is wonderful. And I can talk people into buying things because I’m enthused and happy.

Town was wonderful. I fell in love again with life and with Waterford City. The air was crisp and cold, and did I mention, bright? People met my eyes and smiled and/or waved and drivers were polite to each other. I rode the bus back to the bakery, to bake apple tarts and lemon tarts, thoroughly revived and ready to work for another week. This time as I worked, the little smiles and little tears were gone, and instead I sang and laughed and joked. Yup, I’m solar powered. The Romans used to call this country Hibernian. After 13 winters here, I understand why they did.

This evening six of us young ladies sang several songs as part of the carol service in St. Andrew’s Church in Dunmore East. It was a lovely evening of Nine Lessons and Carols, with a huge crowd of friends and neighbors packing the (drafty) pews. As we meandered out into the cold crisp night, I thought again of Yates’ “On That Night” and the magical, gentle night when the characters in the story left their prayer time, went out in the snow, and found what they’d lost. I hope we get snow now too.

Next week, hopefully things won’t be quite so frantic. I hope there’ll be an evening when we sisters can sit by my fire and take turns reading “On That Night” to each other. I love the wistful, gentle, worshipful story written by a gifted lady.

As far as Christmas stories go, I can’t choose my favourite between that one and “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Twomey.” Both deal with love and loss, grief and miracles, and have parts where I choke up and parts where I smile every time I read them. Do yourself a favor and read at least one of them this week.

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