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After the pageant last night, as I was folding a mountain of soaking wet cloaks and headdresses, a little girl who’d been one of the angels asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I had to stop and think, since such a thing had not occurred to me. “Peace,” I said, and she laughed. She herself wanted something more substantial.

But here it is, 9 a.m. Christmas morning – peace. It snowed heavily through the evening and night – all through the pageant – and this morning, it’s all fresh and magical. Windy, I can see, snow blowing off the trees, and the bird feeder a very busy site.

Every year, as perhaps you’ve noted, I declare I will not do the pageant any more, and every year, its magic pulls me back. It’s hard for me, as a theatre professional, to produce something so very flaky and last minute. Last night, the mike, our most essential prop, arrived just minutes before the show began; luckily it worked but was so heavy, we had to drag a kid from the audience to carry it for us. The choir stood in exactly the wrong place throughout, as we moved around the farm. Etc.

And yet – the cast were all there, some who’ve been doing it for many years – the innkeeper and his wife, the 3 wise men (or, as one of them improvised last night, “We are two wise kings and one wise queen,” to general cheers.) One shepherd instead of two, our wonderful narrator Gina who makes everyone feel at home – she and I (both half-Jewish) standing on the back of a tractor in the farm’s drive shed, surrounded by hundreds of people – yes, despite the blowing snow, there were hundreds came to sing and commune.

And then after the scenelets and the singing, we end up in the barn where the sheep, goats and cows are in their stalls, the choir and crowd are singing “Silent Night,” and in the centre, we see this:

It makes me cry every year, this year especially, of course, because that stunning Mary is someone I’ve known since her childhood: Christina, the daughter of old friends and neighbours Mary and Malcolm – Mary was another co-founder of the pageant – with her baby Eloise (in a pink pussy hat). Her husband did not want to be there, so that loving Joseph, hiding his tattooed hands, is my son.

We are going to have a meeting in January and figure out ways to make sure there’s less last minute stress next year. We’ve said that every year, but this year – next year, I mean – we’ll make sure that happens.

This morning, Anna just sent this:

Santa was REALLY good to them over there. A perfect toy for two boys who love cars and trains.

And over here – peace. Joseph is asleep; Johann Sebastian Bach is singing. I’ll soon get the turkey stuffed and in the oven, using my mother’s special long silver stuffing spoon, and put out the smoked salmon and bagels. Our own holy family will arrive in a few hours, and the chaos will begin. The stockings and the Charley Brown tree are loaded. Guests will arrive for dinner. We have our problems, over here. There are worries, issues, things that keep this woman awake at 3 a.m. And that’s just thinking about friends and family, let alone our poor dear planet. I was awake at 3 a.m. this morning pondering not just my own worries, but Trump’s budget, giving tax breaks to the owners of private planes, the foul obscenity of it all.

Peace. It’s Christmas morning, there’s fresh snow, family and friends are coming; today let’s leave all ugliness outside the door, frozen in the cold, and focus on what matters most: community, kindness, love.

Little birds outside, having breakfast.

Not far from my thoughts, as I bustle about, is the fact that my mother died five years ago this morning. All I know about making a warm comfortable home, about stuffing a bird, I learned from her. My thanks, Mum. All my love.

Merry Christmas.



2 Responses to “merry”

  1. theresa says:

    Beautiful post. And yes, peace would be the best gift, wouldn't it? We enact it over and over, in pageants, in our households, but in the world? Still, it's worth wishing for, hoping for.

  2. beth says:

    We are a warlike species, Theresa, like almost all the other species – watching nature shows convinced me of that. (The doc on Jane Goodall shows her horror when she learns that chimps savagely attack and kill each other for territory.) But we can aim for our own personal peace and, yes, never give up hope for our planet. And a happy, healthy 2018 to you and yours.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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