Karen, the girls and I spent this Christmas Eve in what has become our traditional fashion. We were in Rehoboth Beach for the Christmas Eve services at Epworth United Methodist Church. And we met our Friends the Southmayds at Nicola Pizza for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner (Nicobolis, of course) between services.
This year, Christina is part of the Children's Bell Choir. They performed at the earlier service. Colleen filled in to help out. They played very well. Another feature of the early service was the smaller children of the church presenting a puppet show version of the Christmas Story.
Here we have Shepherds, sheep, barn animals, Joseph and Mary, and a trio of Angels as the Baby Jesus (a Little Bear Doll) lies in the Manger. I have to confess that when Mary and Joseph first appeared, I had this vision of Joseph, as Sesame Street's Count von Count, saying "now I vill count the mangers here in Bethlehem. Ah-Ah-Ah. One! One manger here in Bethlehem! Ah-Ah-Ah!"
Yes, it sounds sacrilegious, but I mean it in the kindest way. This was a very cute version of the Christmas Story, the kids were great, and everyone got a charge out of it. It was a wonderful way to involve all ages in the service.
After our Nicoboli break, we were back in church for the later service. Both Karen and Colleen were playing with the adult bell choir. Colleen has graduated from the kids group to status as a frequent stand-in for the adult group. There's a real shock of pride, as a dad, to look up and see your daughter standing among a group of adults, almost their equal in height, almost a full adult, holding her own in that social setting, and playing music with great skill.
Christina and I contented ourselves with belting out traditional Christmas carols from the congregation. That's one of my favorite parts of the season.
The Epworth service, like many others I'm sure, ends with a quiet singing of Silent Night as the lights are dimmed and a flame is passed from person to person, all holding small candles and singing together.
I treasure the tears on Karen's face at this point each Christmas Eve.