Today is Christmas Eve, a time redolent with traditions, one such being candle-lit church services. I remember fondly an Eve that my little family decided to share in the Christmas spirit by attending one of these Christian rituals. At the time, we had very little money and no real reason to own or dress up in any sort of finery. But we felt secure in the knowledge that the only light would be shining from candles being held by Christians feeling in a forgiving mood. So off we set, heading downtown to Church Street to choose a place of worship at random. Blithely entering, we were greeted by a tuxedo-clad, boutonierred young man who looked at us somewhat askance. After some hesitation, he walked us down the aisle and parked us near the front in an empty pew. We were surprised at the scarcity of attendees and the brightness of the church lights and began to feel a little uncomfortable about the casualness of our dress. Our discomfort increased when a troupe of elaborately garbed people began slowly parading up the aisle from the back. When the organ suddenly burst into the unmistakable strains of the Wedding March and the small congregation rose as one to its collective feet, we realized we were about to participate in an entirely different sort of ritual! Somewhere out there in someone's wedding video, there is footage of a shabbily clad little family of three beating a hasty retreat from the nuptials. Tonight, should we feel the urge to seek out a candle-lit communion, we'll be sure to dress up and carry rice in our pockets, just in case.
A little voice inside couldn't help but wonder if this truly would be the happiest moment in Mary's life.