Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve - an orderly affair

Another frosty day, and yet another telephone call to the insurers disclosed that the car write off was official. A write-off sum was agreed, and that set the the rest of the procedure in motion which enabled us to insure, then go and buy the replacement Golf, fortunately just a couple of miles away from home. Kath, Anto and Rhiannon arrived just as we returned with our prize. It was all just in time for me to leave for church and the midday Eucharist. This year there were just a couple of dozen people present, but it was still worthwhile, for the sake of those who will be with family or friends for the rest of the festival.

There was time to get things ready for the Midnight Mass before taking Communion to Hilda number one. (I have two Hildas who are home communicants at the moment). Hilda number two is away with family. Then it was time to go and fetch Amanda and James from Bristol. It's the first time for several years that they've been able to be with us for Christmas.

Over a hundred people were present for the Midnight Mass. Only 10% of the congregation were people I already knew. There was a significant number of young Asians (as often happens at this service), also older people enjoying Christmas in one of the local hotels.

Most remarkably, the streets were almost empty of revellers and rubbish. The pubs had already closed when I arrived at 10.30pm. The City centre was beautifully quiet, abandoned to those coming to worship. No trouble with drunken revellers or disorderly conduct. You could attribute this to the cold weather, or to recession encouraging cost cutting overtime saving early closures, or to the termination of bus services early in the evening. Or a combination of all of these. For the streets to be reclaimed by late night worshippers and, most importantly, elderly visitors is a triumph, of social engineering or a happy combination of random factors. But one way or another it felt like a triumph to me, and it put me in great mood for the celebration.

It reminded me of those quiet frosty Christmas Eves in Geneva, when the only people out apart from worshippers would be worshippers and late diners in posh restaurants for 'le reveillon' as the evening meal on Christmas Eve is called.

Now what must be done to ensure this becomes the quality benchmark of a visitor friendly city for festive seasons to come?

No comments: