A rural English Christmas

A rural English Christmas
I grew up in a village in the East of England

I grew up in a village in the East of England, in a family which was close knit and happy. Christmas was always a good time, but underlying the food, the fun and the presents there was always something more, something which we children learned from our mother. For whatever else Christmas was about, we always knew that it was about Jesus coming to earth, and a Christmas never passed without us going to church.

The church in our village is very old, hundreds and hundreds of years old, built of stone, built to last but not to be warm in winter! Sometimes we would go to the midnight service. I have strong memories of standing in a dim, candle-lit church singing the well-known carols and listening to the well-known readings. There was always a special feeling, a combination of the sense of mystery and the sense of excitement. Sometimes it would be frosty outside, but it rarely snowed at Christmas. It was good to go home again and to creep into bed, knowing that all the excitement was still to come.

I have spent Christmas on three different continents since then, and I have missed the customs of an English Christmas very little. The one thing I have missed, though, is to worship with those I love on Christmas Day. That is what Christmas is really all about.

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