Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Eve in Saskatchewan

So its Christmas eve in Horse Lake, Saskatchewan; a small farming community with an outdoor skating rink on one farm and a small church with wooden pews several miles further on a gravel road. The time is somewhere in the early 1970’s. The church is all lit up. The furnace has been on for several hours and a warmth is filling the tiny sanctuary. An odd shaped spruce tree is perched off to the side of the stage area with the now familiar ornaments, garland and tinsel. Behind the tree sits a couple of cardboard boxes filled with brown paper bags. Each bag has 1 mandarin orange in it, peanuts (still in their shells) and an assortment of hard candy.

The children have slide into the first few rows in nervous anticipation of the program to come. The church fills. Even the balcony is full… standing room only on this night. There are people here that have not set foot in church all year and are slightly out of sorts by their surroundings.

Soon the program begins. Poems are recited with the gentle prompting from the Sunday school teacher, songs are sung, some solos, some duets or trios. Occasionally the congregation is invited to join in for a Christmas carol or two. The evening is highlighted by a play performed by the senior Sunday school class. It was always amazing to see all those lines performed from memory. At the end of the play, the Pastor, my uncle, goes to the front with his Bible tucked under one arm and a satisfied smile on his face. He closes with several poignant thoughts and closes with one more song and a prayer. He then invites several men to come to the front and help assist in the distributing of the goodie bags. This, was the highlight of the evening. We quickly scatter with our booty.

As the evening draws to a close, the crowd slowly disperses and everyone begins to drive off of the chilly church yard. We head for home 4 miles away, still buzzing from the evening’s events. As we lay in bed, we could hear Mom and Dad in the kitchen wrapping up gifts and placing them under the tree for the following morning, our imaginations running wild with every sound of folding wrapping paper and the muffled sound of Mom and Dad talking.

There was something about experiencing that as a child that amplified every joyful nuance. What fun it was!