It is Christmas Eve in a big old house in northern England. Above the fireplace in the front room, eight socks dangle- empty, but expectant. Each sock has a name attached tightly to it by a wooden clothes peg. The fifth one says ‘Glenys’.
On the hearth beneath sits a glass of milk, a plate with one home-made mince pie, and a carrot. The stage is set.
Night is falling and bedtime approaches. We scamper upstairs, my seven siblings and I, and congregate in the darkness of the bedroom. The curtains are opened and we peer into the night. For a moment all is quiet. Our eyes search.
Where is it Dad? Can you see it?
I see it! The cry goes up from my youngest sister. It’s over there!
She points and we all gaze in the direction of her finger, scanning the darkness until we see it too.
There it is! My dad exclaims, seizing the opportunity. He’s on the move! He’s getting closer! You’d better get straight to bed. Father Christmas won’t come if you’re not asleep!
And we jump into bed and pull the covers over our heads, and dream of morning, when our front room will be filled with love and laughter, presents galore, and eight socks will bulge with promising and peculiar shapes.
We will marvel at the mysterious bite taken out of the home-made mince pie and search for Rudolph’s teeth marks left in the half eaten carrot.
But amidst these wonderful memories, always, always for me, one will remain uppermost…
Looking for Father Christmas’s light on Christmas Eve was magical.
We lived on top of a hill, overlooking the town of Wigan. On any given night, a million stars shone, and hundreds of lights twinkled and traveled in the darkness.
I’m sure that those eight little faces, glued to the window in the dark of a Christmas Eve, each saw a different light. But it did not matter. We saw the magic. We felt it in the air. We share the memory.
And I’m still searching for the light – not from a sleigh, but from a stable. And I see that light everywhere I look…
In the faces of my grandchildren;
In the voices of a choir;
In the smiles of a stranger;
In the lives of my brothers and sisters.
And the most magical part of all….the darker the place, the brighter the light.
I think that is called Hope.