I have just purchased Eric Arthur's wonderful book The Barn (1972), so of course, I am thinking lots about barns. And this being the week before Christmas, my thoughts inevitably go to that special season - and the way each Christmas takes us back in time to relive Christmases past. For most of us, the Christmases we most love to revisit are those of childhood when the innocence and magic of a simpler time made strangers of today's cynical commercialism. For me as a child, the magic of the Christmas story was cozily interwoven with the magic of Santa, special decorations and treats, visitors and events, music and lights, surprises and secrets.
I especially remember warm Christmas services in country churches at Bongards and Glenora, with neighbours and folks home for the holidays, crowding the respectfully excited space, singing the familiar songs (I have my old hymn book, the pages of the Nativity section worn parchment thin by my little fingers), listening to the lessons taking us back to a night in a stable in the dark countryside far away in time and place. I think the Christmas story held special magic for me as a little child at the local country church because of that barn. For farm kids, the story of a cold inhospitable winter night, a sheltering stable, a baby and weary mom nestled in soft clean straw, drowsy animals warming the space with their breath and bodies, and silence, peace, wonder - all made sense. The story reached us 'where we lived' - the story was never more true.