Christmas Eve

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, December 24, 1911:Succeeded in getting my verses learnt for today at least. Went to Sunday School this morning. After buying Xmas presents, I find it my horrendous duty to distribute them, so down to Besse’s I went to present her with my charming Xmas present.  This evening Ruthie and I went up to McEwensville to attend the Xmas services at the Lutheran Church. B. was there. Today was different from all other days in this year, I believe. I didn’t have anything to do with the dishes all day.

Messiah Lutheran Church, McEwensville

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I can just picture a teen writing this entry–with its total focus on the things that are important to a 16-year-old.  Who was B.? . .

But I’m going to focus on the Christmas Eve service–

When I was a child I regularly went to candlelight services at Messiah Lutheran Church  — the same church Grandma attended on Christmas Eve a hundred years ago.  I wonder if the services changed much over the years.

In the middle part of the last century, I remember singing wonderful old-time carols —We Three Kings, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels,  . .. . ..

We’d end with Silent Night after all of the lights had been extinguished except for the candles we were lighting.

(Of course, there was no electricity in 1911—so the church would have been lit with lanterns and candles for the entire service.)

I don’t know why, but I have strong memories of one year when an elderly woman didn’t extinguish her candle at the end of the service, and took the flickering light out into the cold night.

I remember asking my mother why the woman didn’t follow the directions—and my mother said that the old lady was remembering Christmas’s from long ago and that we should let her be.  I looked at the woman and could see how happy she looked as her face was illuminated by the flickering light.

Traditions, like Christmas Eve services, can so wonderfully pull the young and the old together.

One thought on “Christmas Eve

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