Christmas Commentary: Christmas in our hearts

Photo courtesy of Belle Mickelson
Photo courtesy of Belle Mickelson

My son Mike and I have been teaching music in Venetie and Fort Yukon — and now I’m in Tanana along the frozen Yukon River. It’s absolutely gorgeous, with snow-covered ground and stars twinkling in the sky. Last night it was 4 degrees below zero — but, with windchill, a lot colder! At this time of year, the sun doesn’t come far above the horizon — but there are lots of preparations for Christmas — decorating trees and the church, singing Christmas carols, wrapping handmade presents as well as those ordered in mail order catalogs, hauling wood and water, cooking and baking, taking time for a cup of tea with friends and family. It’s just like what the prophet Isaiah said: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…” And, here in the North, there are northern lights to light the way and remind us of God’s presence…

The kids so love Music Week with singing, playing and dancing — and the end of the week student Christmas concert. There is hope and wonder in the kids eyes as they sing “Silent Night” in their language, Gwich’in. Elders and parents all smile with pride — and wipe a few tears from their eyes. Then everyone eats moose soup together and the dance and jigging contests begin. The kids are smiling and laughing continually as the older kids and adults help the younger ones. Christmas joy and spirit are definitely in the air.

And Christmas is almost here. For me, the best parts are time spent with friends and family at home, at church and together outdoors; the lights in the windows, the candles on Christmas Eve, the music, the smell of evergreen trees and wreaths, sharing our blessings, eating together, and reading Christmas stories… Cordovans are fortunate because there are so many community events — and churches ready to welcome everyone into their family — for “a child has been born for us!” Merry Christmas one and all!

The Rev. Belle Mickelson is pastor for St. George’s Episcopal Church.