Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Rachel and I went up Fairmont ski hill and were being hoisted to the summit by 11.30am this morning. It was cold and thin clouds were with us early on, but we managed a dozen trips altogether, and a lot of good skiing. I don't know if I've ever skied down for such a long outing, four hours in total by the time we finally came off the hill. Rachel, being Rachel managed a little jump from a ramp successfully, and got an invite from Bruce, the guy who manages the resort, whom we met while we were out, to join the night time ski procession with flares accompanying Santa own the ski hill down to the Lodge.

John came and joined us for the afternoon, and Clare entertained Jasmine at home and out on the snowy fairway. She also cooked up some minced Elk meat for an early evening meal, so that we could eat and then return to the ski hill well stoked up for an hour in the open air at minus ten.

When we returned, there were hundreds of cars parked all around the ski lodge, and hundreds more in family groups, waiting to welcome Santa's arrival, just after six. Seeing snaking streams of torch bearing skiers emerging from the darkness of the summit as they descended the two main pistes was a marvellous sight. At the place of arrival, they made a circle into which Santa skied, before they extinguished their torches all at the same time.

Children then flocked to Santa to receive candy sticks to send them on their ways to bed, following ten minutes of fireworks, which looked particularly beautiful against a clear dark sky, mountains and forest, lighting up the snow. There were lots of oohs and aahs from the crowd, deservedly. This was a truly enchanting event for adults and children alike.  It was uniquely special for Rachel, skiing downhill in the dark for the very first time.

The only thing to connect all this to the sacred feast of the church about to begin was the broadcast of carols over the public address system. Thankfully, there was no running event commentary to evacuate the moment of wonder, or stuff it with banal sentimental pious remarks either. People could leave under cover of darkness, and ponder the moment and its meaning in their own way.

Later we went up to the vilage of Windermere in search of the little wooden church of St Peter, for their celebration of the first Eucharist of Christmas at 10.00pm. As we arrived, a freight train going north on the other side of the lake sounded off its siren twice, probably due to its approach to a road crossing. I wondered if the lights of the church were visible to the driver half a mile away,

Anyway, the church was full to the doors, with about seventy people there, and the mood was relaxed and jolly. The hymns had different tunes though they were not unfamiliar in content. The liturgy was modern, rather than classical, otherwise the ethos was quite traditional and the welcome warm. For a church that isn't as frequently used as the one in Invermere, it was well heated and well looked after. After the service, the curate was going straight on to Invermere for celebration at 11.30pm. She announced that she'd just been appointed interim pastor, so it seems as if she was having to manage an interregnum at the busiest time of year. I that's how I was sure we were in an Anglican church.

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