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  • Writer's pictureLaura McBride

Another gift, a poem: Hoar frost

Snow at Bray Shop, a hamlet near my home. (Wiki commons photo)


What is it, I wondered aloud, alone

in my car, coming back from the house

of a friend, a friend who is also, now, a

colleague. Our book, together, is out. Our

friendship has not changed; will money

change it? For the better. Yes, for the better.

But, I wondered aloud...what IS it about

Christmas, the festive season, that is

so attractive, even when one has long

given up the myth of Jesus.


One year, it snowed before Christmas,

melted, froze again. We had to go to

Tesco for something a day or two before

the long drive north, to our Christmas

venue, a place of peace and joy with

friends and family. Not mine. No,

with mine, peace and joy fled and

hid. A real family, with love and

pudding, games and grab-bag

gifts. Gifts like that are hard to come by

but the festive season, yes, then, if ever.

But always, it seems, we long for

the close comfort of total acceptance

that is a good family and a myth of the

Christian Christmas, a myth too fraught, now,

with crap from ASDA and too many

must-do visits/entertainments, and no

respite at a time when we might do

well to hibernate a little, to digest the

last big feast before spring. We think

we have no time to drive slowly down a country

road, beneath leafless grey trees clothed

in a layer of sparkling ice, not even dripping

yet in the still frigid air. But we rush when we

should meander, as our souls demand. We

fail to take ease at our peril.

We usually fail.


I play sacred music from as early in the

festive season as I can get away with.

The ancient-sounding hymns, the

Lullay Myn Liking, and Adam Lay Ybounden.

I wondered, one year, why I listened to

music written for a myth I cannot believe in.

My guru, a New Thought philosopher,

told me not to fret, I was simply

looking for the eternal divine, the

beauty that underlies all creation--

as it must, else all is chaos. Celebrate

the music itself, he said, if nothing else.

Wise man. Too soon vanished to his

own eternal life.


Lashings of rain beat my window. I have

feasted on strong coffee and Cornish

saffron cake. Festive. Laden with good

Irish butter. It is beautiful, the rain

this early festive season, I shall do it.

I shall download the Christmas album

of the church of my young days, when

I could get my head around the myth,

just, and so loved the beauty of the music,

the beauty of the church, the intelligence

of a magnificently centered Anglican

priest, the kindness of the people. But

the myth got in the way. And I left.

The love of it remains, filling me

at times to bursting. So I will love

the rain, love my full tummy, love my

absent wise friend now also of sacred myth,

at least to me,

and download some sacred music.


Still, I hope it snows and melts and

freezes this year. I have never felt such beauty

as those woods on that day as

O Come Emmanuel filled the car with

ancient sacred sounds.

COPYRIGHT 2013 Laura Harrison McBride

Snow in St. Columb, Cornwall. (Wiki commons photo)

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