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silent night

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Christmas spirit creeps in, in the most unexpected places.

Living out in the country we’re grateful that we are not bombarded with the commercial circus that most associate with the festive season.

In the big centres all seem to be tiredly plodding through crowded supermarkets to blaring ‘seasonal’ music.  Why can’t someone write some beautiful new songs for this time of the year?  – Aren’t you tired of hotted-up songs referring to Mary’s Boy Child, or inane Reindeer songs (where did anyone ever see a reindeer near Bethlehem when Christ was born, or in South Africa for that matter?)

There is absolutely no peace and joy in handing over more and more of your hard earned cash for an ever diminishing trolley content.

silent night

silent night

There is very little peace and joy in presenting gifts that you hopefully imagine will be appreciated, little knowing what is wanted or even more appropriate – needed.

I have always found it a strange mish-mash of beliefs, religions and money-making greed when Father Christmas comes on duty. For some reason it seems the gifts are expected to be bigger and more expensive each year.

No-one seems to know the real meaning of Christmas.  Even those who do know what they are celebrating, now term this time of the year – to be politically correct – the Festive Season.

And they are probably right. It is the end of the work year, most are on holiday, gifts are being exchanged and families and friends are gathering.  It is indeed The Festive Season and is rightfully celebrated as such.

If you look at the signs and stars, computerised back-winding of the skies suggest that Christ was born around the 28th of July – just about as far from 25 December as one can get – as if He too disassociates Himself from our commercial farce – and some folk are now celebrating their Christmases in the middle of the year.

But here in the country, in the run up to Christmas – now only 4 weeks away, the ‘plukkers’ (harvesters) are noisily working their way through the apricot orchards.  They are a cheerful, rowdy bunch, calling to one another among the trees, yelling insults and banter as they compete to fill their crates faster then the rest, shrieking with laughter at some unseen mishap or joke.  You can hear exactly where they are, out of sight in the orchards, as they come closer.

Out in the garden, I rather enjoy hearing the noisy, high spirits – admire their merry frivolity despite the hard labour and blazing heat of the late November sun.

Then, suddenly there was silence for a moment – and the purest, clearest, most beautiful female voice sang ‘Stille Nag’ (Silent Night’) with such feeling that the hair on my arms stood up and I was rooted to the spot in enchanted disbelief.

The hymn ended, and as if it had never happened, the shrieking, yelling and laughter was back.

But that young woman gave me the most precious, beautiful Christmas gift – a total stranger who had no idea that she had done so.  A moment of peace, joy, happiness. The true meaning of Christmas.

The group moved noisily on, and I never did find out who the pure-voiced singer was.

But it made me feel, more than ever, that God lives in the country.