Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas without television

What, no television?
· When we moved to the country and I moved into American University’s Anderson Hall, we chose not to have a television in either dwelling. It was not a big statement, we simply didn’t make TV a priority. So there have been nearly three years without television (we do watch DVD films, occasionally). Thus, we miss the thousands of commercial images with which most people in the developed world are bombarded. I think this gives the holidays, which in America are so driven by the expectation: buying >>> giving >>> expression of love >>> happiness, a very different flavor. I am not against giving, or commerce for that matter. But how could we have been beguiled into the belief that providing material goods is the best way to express love and engender happiness. Thousands of television images each week, communicating that message, will do it.

The Children's Christmas Eve Service at Leeds Church
· Leeds Church, about which I often write, provides a very different view. Last evening, at about 5 PM, nearly two hundred of us packed into the tiny, more than 150 year old church, for the Christmas eve ‘children’s service.’ Our minister gathered all the children close to the alter – there must have been at least thirty – questioned them about the story of Christmas – and gave each a chance to place a figure on the church’s small ‘manger’. She knows every child in the congregation by name, and blesses them by name at communion. The children’s choir sang, two children played the piano during the collection and we concluded with “Silent Night” and then a joyful ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ as a recessional. Then we greeted each other outside the church in the cold winter evening.

The last hours of Christmas eve
· Later we shared dinner with friends in one of the beautiful homes with which this part of Faquier County is dotted. Our companions were a fire captain and his wife, a systems analyst, a newspaper photographer and her husband, a computer programmer, a stockbroker and two professors (my wife and me). We turned in early, with a fire still burning in the hearth for our cats and our horses chomping hay peacefully in their standing shed, awaiting the commemoration of Christ’s birth (if the knew or cared) under a clear, moonlit sky.


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