This is the first Christmas Eve that I have been able to celebrate with a congregation of my own since 2002. Serving two small congregations parttime has always meant that I was not on duty on that particular date. This year I suggested to the Whidbey folks that, since Dec. 24 is a Sunday and we meet at 4 p.m. anyhow, we have a bang-up celebration, complete with candlelight carols and a child dedication.
Many thought it would be a poorly attended, throwaway service and some thought we oughtn't meet at all. I'm glad to have changed their minds and, with the help of our DRE and a local seminary student, UUCWI will meet in a candlelit space, sing the old songs, hear some good stories and a short intergenerationally-friendly homily, welcome 8 children into the congregation, and sing Silent Night as two teenage boys solemnly pass the light down the rows. We'll enjoy holiday goodies afterwards and disperse to our homes, warmed by friendship and engaged by the mystery that seems to accompany darkness pierced by candlelight.
I'm coming home thereafter pooped out, having a big bowl of ertasopa (Norwegian split pea---my mother's recipe and a Christmas Eve tradition in my family) with sourdough bread, opening a couple of packages, perhaps calling my son or sibs to share the evening long distance, and quietly savoring an evening of joy.
The next morning, I'll open other packages and begin to get ready for Christmas dinner. I threw open the invitation to anyone in the congregation who didn't have family to celebrate with and I will have about 10 guests, some couples and some singles. I'll roast the turkey and they'll bring the fixings.
So it will be a perfectly lovely Christmas. I hope your celebrations, whatever they may include, are bright and memorable as well.