The night is cold. The wind is whooping it up around the corners of the house. The trees creak and groan. The doors rattle. My house is old, and somewhat shabby. I am thankful to be here, sheltered from the wind and the cold. Everyone has already crawled into bed, curled up warm and sleepy under the Quilts.
I have turned out the lights and I stand looking out the window. I do it every night, a habit from years long past. A quiet and peaceful interlude after each busy day.
The sky is black velvet. I cannot see the moon. The starshine reflects off the snow covered ground, filling the night with white light. I can see the lights from the houses on the hill across the valley. The stars are brilliant. They really twinkle on certain clear winter nights. They don't seem as though they are so very far away. They look as though you could reach out and touch them. Stars intrigue me. I wonder. If I could hold one tiny flick of starlight in my hand, would it still wink, and glitter? When there are meteor showers and the sky rains stars, where do they go?
How did those wise men, those Magi, find that new star in the East? What great allure did it have, compelling them to leave behind the places that they knew and go, following that star? Following it to a far distant land?
What must those shepherds have thought, keeping watch over their flocks that night? Were they standing there as I am now gazing up into the glittering heavens? What if I suddenly saw the night sky filled with a heavenly host? What was it like to hear the angels sing? The Gospel says they were 'sore afraid'. Those words have such quality. I have never been 'sore afraid'.
I think of my children and all those that I love. I want them to see this and understand. This was the beautiful gift given to mankind on that first Christmas Eve. We no longer need to be 'sore afraid'!
The ice has crept halfway up the inside of my windows, because this old house has no storm glass. The ice looks like filigree. The star shine gleams through and makes lacy patches on my hardwood floor. Probably even a king or a queen doesn't have filigree windows of silvery lace on their floors! But I do. I can sleep content, knowing that there really is peace on earth. May we all have a quiet place to find it.
This was published in the New Hampshire Union Leader several years ago. So many people who read it, told me I should use it for my Christmas letter. So here's my Christmas wishes to all of you!