Monday, December 10, 2012

The Surprise of The Simply Sacred at Christmas

The Surprise of The Simply Sacred at Christmas

"'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”                                                   Luke 2:14

A happy moment with beloved Aunt Patty, my dad, and me.

Sometimes the most sacred moments at Christmas come by mistake and catch us by surprise. This was the case with one of my most cherished memories.

It was a crisp cold night about a week before Christmas. My cousin had gathered us all for a potluck supper. Her cheery little home was filled to the brim with cousins, aunts, uncles, and kids; lots and lots of kids, many of them babies. Because the house was small and child-proofed, the kids were spread out throughout the rooms, under the watchful eye of an adult nearby, but fairly free to play.

A few of them laughed and giggled over the building blocks they set up just to boisterously knock down.

A mom scrambled after her gleeful toddler as he pulled the coats down from high up on the master bed.

A group of moms and dads sat in the little living room laughing at the children’s playful antics and catching up.

The kitchen was bursting with yet another small gathering of relatives busily preparing the food.

The lovely sun porch was a bright little spot for quieter conversations. The Christmas tree glistened. There sat my wonderful Aunt Patty holding court from her wheelchair, the result of her advancing MS (multiple sclerosis). She was a fiercely faithful woman who had an amazingly positive attitude despite being confined to her chair and living in a nursing home at a way-too-young age. In her usual manner, Aunt Patty greeted everyone who entered with a wide smile and a little gift she had made at the nursing home. This year, it was a tiny family of pinecones, sitting in a little walnut basket.

Then, in the middle of the delightful Christmas chaos, suddenly the lights flickered and went out. There was the hush of surprise, followed by the tears of fear that gripped the little ones, many of them terrified of the dark…and it was pitch dark!

Everyone was quickly ushered into the sun porch, all accounted for, and not quite sure what to do next. How long would the blackout last? How could we eat in the dark? What now?
The room had windows on three sides. And the stark winter night twinkled with thousands of stars. A few candles had been gathered and flickered throughout the room.

Suddenly, Aunt Patty, a gifted cantor, broke out in song, ”Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” For a second, silence fell upon the room, then voices lifted high as we all joined in worship.

There was a sacred stillness that filled the room. All the hustle and bustle, stress and busyness of the season melted away, Together, we were all touched, quieted, awed by this holy moment we shared…a glimpse of light in the darkness, the sound of angels singing, the wonder and love that is Christmas. 

O Holy Night…

What’s your favorite Christmas memory?


  1. This was a perfect memory before the blackout, and then, that lovely twist made it even more beautiful! Almost like a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Only better.

    1. Yes, Deidra, it was like our own personal candlelight service. And it was such a quiet moment in the midst of so much noise!

  2. Elise,
    My Mom sent this story to all of her kids, and it was very touching. Vicki & I host Christmas now, and it brings back so many fond memories to see Patty & Charlie in this picture. They were special people that left the world & all they touched better than they found it. We need more like Patty & Charlie!

    Merry Christmas!
    Paul Harte

    1. Thanks so much Paul for reaching out. Yes, we were all blessed to be surrounded by many wonderful people, including of course your dad, God rest His soul, as Grandma Daly used to say (another amazing person!). And I am a forever fan of your mom too. She has guided me my entire life through her love, faith, and example.
      Love to all of you and blessed Christmas!!

  3. What a wonderful story; I so much enjoyed the read. And yes, your Aunt sounds like a very special woman of God. God bless her....thanks so much for sharing your story. Merry Christmas.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Judi. I have been blessed with many wonderful pilars of faith in my life. My aunt was one and my dad was another, also in the picture above. I miss both of them!
      Christmas Blessings to you and yours.

  4. There is something so sacred about that song.....Thank you for sharing. ~b

    1. I agree Bridgit. Silent Night is a song that penetrates and really gives us a sense of being there that the hush, in the awe. Another one is Oh Holy Night. Deeply moving songs. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Beautiful memory! That brought me to tears!

  6. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words and your story of this unexpected moment that was most surely a divine appointment. :)


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