"In Nashville." I certainly was not planning on being in Music City for the holiday, but rather with family to the northwest in Clarksville. However, things didn't work out for this to happen. Could have seen this as a real bummer - a "bum-end" as my son remarked! But I refused to let the change in plans bring me down.
The result was a very memorable Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.
On the former day, I travelled by bus across town to my church, Eastwood Christian (Disciples) of our Christmas Eve worship. I carried my guitar and some villancicos (carols in Spanish) and Christmas sheet music with me. Just in case the Pastor wanted me to do something musical during it. He had expressed this several days ago when I still planned to go to C'ville. It turned out that no, he had the whole service arranged. But no problem! I was quite happy to simply participate in the celebration as an attendee and nothing more. Participate as one in a full house, I must add -- we were standing room only!
We had terrific music as it was! Beginning with the Pastor, Jay Hartley, on bagpipes, his son Joseph on recorder, Stuart Duncan on guitar, etc. The order of worship was a traditional "lessons (i.e., Scripture readings) and carols" format, followed by the Lord's Supper with us going forward in the central aisle, partaking by intinction (dipping a piece of the loaf into the cup and then eating it) and then acquiring a small candle (with anti-wax protector for the fingers) and proceeding up the outer aisle. With so many people, we didn't have quite en'uf candles, and in addition to lining the walls we stood all along the central aisle and packed the chancel (choir area)! The candles got lit and the artificial lights turned down as we all sang "Silent Night". After the benediction we sang "Joy to the World" to cap off this celebration of the coming of the Word of God into our world, in the flesh of the one born to a virgin and using a feed trough for his first cradle.
I had eaten little during the day, and this left plenty of room for a post-worship supper at Emily Nourse's home. Emily and her mother Margaret are members of Eastwood who used to live in Corpus Christi, Texas, and have been on cursillo-style retreats (the mom on Walk to Emmaus & the daughter on Chrysalis). Margaret's other daughter and her husband and a cousin were also at the worship and walked with us to Emily's house for the dinner. The other daughter (an alumna of San Antonio's Trinity University) and her husband had made tamales by hand earlier in the day -- and when I learned of this before the worship started, I remarked, "Oh, una tamalada! Had I known I'd have come over early and helped out!" (This despite the fact that I know nothing about how to make the traditional comida mexicana de Nochebuena y Navidad.)
While los tamales were heating up along with Spanish rice and guacamole was being made, we sipped on a delicious Spanish wine. It was neither dry nor sweet, but a combination or both, and very tasty.
After supping on this Mexican-style Christmas Eve meal, I pulled out my guitar and played a couple of villancicos and Emmaus songs while I sang los villancicos and we all sang the Emmaus songs. Then we wrapped up with "Feliz Navidad", the well-known Jose Feliciano Christmas hit. Everybody (except me, accompanying on guitar) did a dance around the dining room to this. I'd not seen this before but it was delightful to watch!
Then, when I arrived back at Mercury Court and went to the community room to check my mailbox, I saw that one other resident was there watching TV. I saw the credits for "White Christmas" and at first considered that I had just missed a broadcast of my favorite Christmas movie. (I'd forgotten that back then credits were rolled at the start of the flick, not at the end, as now.) But the fellow told me that no, it was just starting. So I "popped a seat" and watched the whole show. I found it significant that it ended about 12:30 AM on Christmas Day -- I usually do not stay up to midnight on Christmas Eve night.
Despite the uncustomary very late hour of going to bed, I awoke about my usual time and after lying there for awhile I decided to see about going to a Christmas Day service somewhere. While I lived in San Antonio I had attended worship on Christmas Day mornings at either San Fernando Cathedral or at Christ Episcopal Church. So I went to Christ Church here (also Episcopal, a cathedral of that denomination). Sure en'uf they were having a worship there, so I walked around for awhile (seeking in vain a place where I could get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate) and then returned to the historic church for worship.
The rest of the day was a quiet one, of riding around on the bus, talking to family over my cell phone and listening to Handle's "Messiah" on my CD player. Late in the afternoon I opened my few presents; they were all nice and much appreciated. After listening to the Friday Nite Opry on WSM-AM 650 I turned in for the night - at a much earlier, more normal hour than the previous night!