It's a beautiful service, the Christingle, very symbolic. An orange to represent the world, sweets to remind us of God's gifts and the four seasons, a red ribbon for the blood of Christ and a candle for the Light of the World.
Lovely. We have our Christingle on Christmas Eve - two of them now so more people can come. And even then the church is packed to the rafters, children sitting on carpets and knees and shoulders and running up and down the aisle, parents and grandparents trying to contain the excitement and catch a few words of the service.
A short pause to fix our eyes on Jesus before bedtime and stockings and Father Christmas and reindeer and mysteriously closed doors with intriguing sellotaping noises seeping through the house.
Alternatively, 200 people, over half of them children under ten, each child armed with a lit candle in a building made largely of wood, many of them totally unfamiliar with the layout of the church. Mayhem potential: high.
I quote the curate: "Parents, er, perhaps it would be a good idea if you could hold onto your children firmly now. When lighting the Christingle, please hold the unlit candle sideways and the lit candle upright to avoid spilling hot wax. Please sit still. Emergency exits are situated to the back and side of the church
Eventually the only light in the church is a slightly wobbly, breath-holdingly excited bobbling of white candles, as we sing "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem".
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth !
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth !
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given !
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us,
Out Lord Emmanuel !
Candles out, a collective sigh of relief from Curacy and Sidesmen all.
And then into the foyer and many Christmas greetings, from regular parishioners and from visitors. And then home, and time for this
before a bath and bed. We don't do stockings here, Little Fish is scared of Father Christmas and Mog is far too wise for her years. So the big treat tomorrow morning will be Grannie coming to help me get the girls dressed, and then we will be off to church and then to their house for food and presents and general family fun.
And now Mog is asleep, and Little Fish has finished coughing, the cats are fed and the house is settling down for the night.
I hope you all have a peaceful night and a beautiful day tomorrow.
Tia and the girls.