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I was five years old, sitting at the top of the stairs in my fleece jammies.  A stuffed toy golden retriever tucked under my arm, matted but well loved.  The thermostat still hadn’t been turned up because no one else was awake in the house so there was a slight chill that kept my knees tucked in.  All the while the glow of the Christmas tree could be seen on the wall on the landing by the bottom of the stairs.
I sat there.  Obediently not entering the living room as I was told the night before, until my other sisters awoke and my parents gave the ok.

The quietness of the dark morning I remembered, came with a familiar tradition.  I could hear the CBC broadcasting whether live or recorded.  Choral music of Westminster Abbey quietly resonating with the calm of what juxtaposed the anxiousness of a child on Christmas morn to further things along.  It was magic and it held my attention as much if not more, than any new toy ever could.

Even as the morning progressed the sound from the stereo was subtly in the background.  As I got older I even started to recognize Handels Messiah as part of the regular Christmas programming.  But it wasn’t the music I remembered most, it was what I felt.


I opened my eyes to see people beginning to shuffle out, heads turning this way and that trying to absorb the last bits of beauty left from the service and the magnificence of the environment.
I could tell you nothing of the lesson, I could name no hymn that was sung or played.  I couldn’t even tell you if the choir sang naked, only that what my soul felt was as close to what I could describe as the moment of Christmas morning.  The calm, a peace, juxtaposing an underlining anticipation, a type of soul chaos mixed with a souls order knowing two worlds were colliding right here.

We got up and began to make our way out.  Felicia and I shared very little in terms of words as we shuffled our own way towards the exit.  I don’t know what she was feeling, but I wasn’t quite ready to re-enter a jovial conversation about men and anatomy lab mishaps.

Something caught my eye as we were about to approach the grave of the unknown warrior; flickering lights from candles to my right under a painting.  Leaving Felicia’s side I drifted towards the pillar that held a portrait of the Christ child with his mother and where at least a hundred votives sat, some lit and some not.

Time and space suddenly became a void as I watched the flickering fire.  Sounds muted around me, feeling a cool sterile environment wash over my mind, a contrast to the heat I had just felt from the many candles alight before me.
I closed my eyes, still seeing the orange glow behind my eyelids, not wanting to remember, but not wanting to forget either; her face.

All alone.

With no one to comfort her.
No mother, as the Christ child in the portrait had, to hold her.

I opened my eyes and reached for a long match, seeing the flames dance between the tears that filled my eyes now falling down my cheeks.


And my lips moved in stark memory as I lit a candle.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Find the beginning of the story here…