Tuesday 24th. December, 2013 – Christmas Eve 

Now the Christmas Tree in the farmhouse has baubles as well as lights

It is Christmas Eve and, for the first time since I retired, I feel a little strange, a little bit like a spare part. Last year I was up early with shopping to do and then so many services to get just right. I would conduct the Christmas Eve Service at half past eleven in Arrochar and a huge number of the village would come. The Church would be lit entirely by candle-light and there was a lovely feeling in the Church enhanced by the mulled wine served at the door! I would ensure that everything was ready for the Luss service as well, although it would be conducted by Bill and Rachel and I would get back from Arrochar just in time to greet some of the folk from Luss (their service lasts longer than Arrochar’s because of the Guild Choir items just after midnight). There would be no time to relax for on Christmas morning there were services at Arrochar and Luss – in Arrochar this was the best attended service of the year with few from Arrochar but loads of predominantly English folk staying in the local hotels. At the Luss the service would also be made up predominantly of visitors as the tradition there as well was to attend on Christmas Eve – but how can Christians not want to mark Jesus’ birth in their congregational family home? It has always been important to me to be in Church on Christmas morning.

The crib is out in the farmhouse lounge as well

Well, this morning I got up and walked Mix – there was snow in the air and it was quite chilly. The wind was also starting to blow. I breakfasted on bacon and egg and then went out to Duns to do some last minute shopping. To be honest I really didn’t need to, but it is what I have always done, and I’m a creature of habit particularly at this time of the year. I also had to go to Duns to pick Mum up from her hairdresser – before I set off, Tom and Dorothy popped in to see how we were. We’ll join them later in the evening for the Watch Night Service.

Back at Mount Pleasant, Scott arrived with Nick and Amy. It was a flying visit and by a little after three we had the whole complex to ourselves: Mum, Olive, Digger and Heidi the dog having left for Edinburgh to Christmas with Jeff and Devon. We will drive there tomorrow after Church.

A lovely Christmas tree – but not too many people

I visited Duns again just after three. The place looked beautiful but it was practically deserted. Normally on Christmas Eve I am jostling with last minute Christmas shoppers, or with those who are looking for last-minute bargains. I feel so sorry for shopkeepers this Christmas, the weather, the internet, the shopping malls and the recent recession have all conspired to hit them really hard.

Normally there isn’t a parking space to be had

Back home I wrapped up all of my presents – the Lessons and Carols from King’s College was on the radio. Rachel preferred to watch on television later in the afternoon. I spent the time tidying my study and wondering when I had ever had time to do something like that on Christmas Eve before. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying this year enormously: it just doesn’t feel real. At any moment I expect the telephone to ring and tell me to get back to work. Mind you, with gales roaring all around us – the wind picked up dramatically over the course of the afternoon – it is very pleasant to be able to stay indoors.

Gavinton Church by candle-light before the service began

We dined in the Granary and watched a bit of Morecombe and Wise, followed by a new Midsomer Murder and then we cleared the kitchen as best we could so that we could leave the dogs while we went to Church. Walked them, left them comfortable and set off for the Church. The wind was howling but still there were twenty-one of us in Church for a lovely carol service during which Ann spoke of the reality and humanity of Jesus’ birth. It was really God born into our world -- a fact which was ‘as much about midwifery as it was about theology’. It was good to be with members of the congregation as we moved into Christmas 2013 – although I have to confess that my mind did drift off to Arrochar and Luss as I wondered how they were getting on and hoping that they were having as good a celebration as we were down here.

Wished Tom and Dorothy good night and wished them well on their drive south to Dorothy’s folks tomorrow (well, later on today). Drove home and discovered that the dogs had been very good indeed – things are looking up! Well, it is Christmas.

If you are reading this, I hope that you have a very happy Christmas and may God bless us all.


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