Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Boughs of Holly

I'll admit it. I just love the carol Deck the Halls. There is something about a rousing Fa-La-La that just makes me get into the Christmas spirit.

I was raised Unitarian. When I went off to college I didn't think being part of a congregation was all that important. Then my junior year, while studying in Italy, a family was in a car accident. The three children were killed instantly and the mother died five days later. The father survived. They were one of the first families I babysat for. My mom and the mother were friends. I'll never forget which phone booth I was in when my parents told me the news.

It was then that I figured out that for me religion wasn't the creed, it was the community. It was the people who saw you on a fairly regular basis that weren't family or co-workers or the parents of other children. So I joined a church in New Orleans while teaching. And we joined a church when we moved to town.

The first Sunday in December is the Hanging of the Greens service. Older children and teenagers wait around the stately meeting house until the congregation sings Deck the Halls. Then they hang wreaths in the windows surrounding the sanctuary and place electric candles underneath. They race up to the balconies and drap long garland over the sides and drop down others to be wrapped around the columns. My 6-year-olds were struggling to watch it all. And I was struggling not to cry.

Christmas for me is the traditions and wonder. The yummy treats and combining of pagan, secular and religious. It is music, color and finding warmth in the cold. It is finding the absolute perfect gift for someone and, yes, getting one too.

So Deck your Halls. And Fa-la-la.


Kate said...

That's a nice thing to share. It's a great way of looking at the holiday.

soccer mom in denial said...

That and I avoid the malls at all costs. Web shopping and small town shops all the way.

Alex Elliot said...

I was looking at your categories and was very intrigued by your Unitarian category. I clicked on the link for your church. I belong to First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Northboro!