Saturday, December 26, 2009
A True Story
When I was growing up in Corpus Christi, our family went to the candlelight service at the First Methodist Church.
One Christmas Eve, we watched as the Hill* family filed into the pew in front of us. I am not sure what Mr. Hill did for a living, but as a family, they exuded the sentiment, "we have arrived at the proper time, most properly dressed, and everyone has been instructed on proper behavior." Mrs. Hill swiveled her way into the pew.
In the previous year, Mrs. Hill hosted the youth group Superbowl Party in their home and based on the way she had us stand out in the front yard and wait for our parents after the game, I was pretty sure she would not be hosting the youth group again. So this is the woman we found ourselves sitting behind on Chrismtas Eve.
It was still a few minutes before the beginning of the service and we noticed that Mrs. Hill was getting agitated. Apparently she had mis-placed the candle that the usher had given her. First she checked with Mr. Hill and then each of her three daughters to see if they were holding it. When none of them had the candle, the search was on. She ducked down to look under the pew, she twisted side to side to look around her. She checked her large and expensive purse, and she looked behind the hymnals and bibles.
Seeing a woman who carries herself with such composure get flustered over a lost candle, made everyone in my pew smile. Her own family started to show amusement too, which convinced her that someone must have taken her candle. That sent my whole pew into stiffled laughter. The organ began the prelude. Mrs. Hill sighed and gave up the search.
We were drawn into the service and forgot about Mrs. Hill until it got time for the candle lighting. I glanced up to see that she had a candle, so all was well after all. Dad surprised me with a quick nudge. He pointed to the pew in front of us where Mrs. Hill had been sitting. I looked down and saw a candle neatly broken. She had been sitting on the missing candle the whole time!
Our shared laughter broke through the congregation's singing of "Silent Night" and the candlelighting and the reverence of it all. Many years and many Christmas Eve services have since passed, but it still remains a favorite Christmas Eve memory.
* The story is true, but I did change the family's name to "Hill". The candle light image is from this address: http://www.mbcokc.com/events/main_event.php