Hoover and I had Christmas cards to deliver. Those that needed to be posted had already been dropped into the letterbox, but by the time the others were ready darkness had fallen, the moon was high and there was a sharp nip in the air. Hoover didn’t mind. A chance for a walk, sniff and explore is fine at all times of the day or night.
A clear day had led us into a clear night, spangled with starts. The mist that gathered around the moon was a harbinger of rain, but as yet the air was clean and sharp. We have no street lights and when darkness comes it comes absolutely. Once when returning home torchless on a clouded, moonless night from a friend’s house I had found myself ricochetting of the hedges as I fumbled my way home. Now I remember to carry a torch, but avoid using it whenever possible, preferring to rely on moon and starlight to see my way. Eyes accustom themselves to the darkness, and I find my way surprisingly well. Hoover has no problem, seeming to see almost as clearly at night as during the day. Certainly she knows the instant my hand dips into The Biscuit Pocket, appearing out of the darkness immediately, ready to receive.
Now the darkness has been banished. With Christmas drawing close, houses are decorated and the warmth within shines out through curtained windows. As I searched through my collection of envelopes to find the right card I was lit by the lights set on my side of the curtains, a sign of the good cheer inside. The door opened and Hoover shot in to greet the new puppy who lives inside.
“Oh, a card! How lovely!” said Sally.
“Yes, we can come to your party!” called Guy from within as Hoover bounced back through the door.
Suddenly I became acutely aware of the decorations, maybe the more so as we have none of our own this year. We are full of works on the house and decoration has been restricted to the kitchen. On our way to the next card drop we passed Father Christmas’s sleigh with reindeer prancing in attendance. There we found that the curtains were drawn aside to allow us a glimpse of the decorated tree. What generosity to allow us to share the pleasure.
At the next house we had to slip the card between lit trees. There is such generosity in these decorations that post such cheer in the dark and cold nights.
But now we were not the only ones out. People were heading out along the lanes, in twos and threes, children laughing as they flashed torches about.
“Hello, Hoover! Are you coming too?”
“Not tonight, She’s keeping Jay company because he’s still working. It’ll be just me”
“Do you want us to save you a seat?”
“I’m sure there’ll still be space when I get there.”
Hoover was miffed when I took her home. She, too, sensed the excitement in the air and wanted to be part of it, but Jay had a bone for her to chew and such things are the perfect distraction.
“See you later,” I called, as I headed out again. Beyond the church more lights flashed and whirled on the brightest house of all, but I followed the crowd.
Warm welcomes, and the scent of oranges, greeted me at the door. Now I could remove my hat, and gloves can be thrust into pockets.
“Here’s plenty of space for you.” Peter moves closer to his wife and I can see the crib, by the lectern, still awaiting the arrival of the baby, just as we are too.
“Any news?” asks Ann when she joins us. I shake my head.
“Babies come in their own time,” she says. I nod my head in agreement.
On the window sills the candles shine out, softly lighting the church as it must have been when it was first built, nearly a millennium before. They remind me of the light that shines in each one of us, a light that is sometimes fragile or dimmed, but always there, waiting to be nurtured by appreciation and love.
Happy Christmas to you all!