Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve, trees, and the BBC

Today is Christmas Eve and we have a full day ahead of us. All the gifts have been purchased but about half of them still need to be wrapped. Jethro has an appointment to be groomed at 9:00 a.m. in Woodstock, fifteen miles away. I still have to put up the eight-foot tree and decorate it and set up the creche on the credenza in the foyer and set out the pre-lit trees on either side of the front door. Somewhere in there before the family arrives I also will be cleaning the house--vacuuming and dusting and scrubbing the kitchen floor and making the bathrooms presentable. There is a bit of a reprieve this year, though: our family get-together won't occur until Thursday, the 27th, partly because my policeman son-in-law in Alabama changed jobs this year and now his days off are Thursday and Friday.

In other years, the tree would have been up for a week or two already, but this year the time just got away from us, what with Ellie having to attend Joint Replacement Class and get lab work done and be cleared for her knee replacement surgery on January 7th. When I was a child, we never had a tree until Christmas morning and I was told that Santa brought it. Of course, it was only a three-ft. table-top tree, not the eight-foot monster I have to deal with today. Our church in Roswell is having a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:00 p.m., but we probably won't go this year. This evening we will be driving back to Woodstock to eat Christmas Eve dinner with my son and daughter-in-law, the boys, and their other grandmother who has driven up from Florida. We've also been invited back for Christmas morning breakfast. Our oldest son is participating in our other daughter-in-law's family's activities and we'll see them on Thursday along with all the other kids and grandkids. We don't care when we see everybody; we're just glad we get to see them.

I hope Jethro's appointment doesn't interfere with what has become one of my favorite Chritmas Eve traditions, one I heartily recommend. For some years now, I have turned the radio on to the Public Broadcasting station at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 24th and listened to the live, worldwide broadcast by the BBC of the Christmas Eve service, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, from the chapel of Kings College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, featuring their world-famous boys choir. The program always begins with a single boy soprano singing "Once In Royal David's City" a capella to start the processional and ends ninety minutes later with a resoundingly satisfying rendition of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" with full-organ accompaniment. In between are some of the most beautiful choral music pieces and virtuoso organ playing you will ever hear, interspersed with readings of Scripture having to do with the birth of Christ. Each speaker ends his segment with the words, "Thanks be to God." It is always magnificent and it never fails to inspire. A couple of years it was also televised.

If I miss the broadcast because of Jethro's grooming appointment, I'll still be there in spirit. [Update: I missed the first half-hour, but I was rewarded for my lateness with "Ding, Dong, Merrily On High, Hosanna In Excelsis."]

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