Tonight Debbie, James & I drove through blustery wind and rain back to Merthyr Vale to see old friends and their very grown up family and at their invitation attend a Christmas Carols by Candlelight service, poem and gospel reading at the Merthyr Vale Baptist chapel.
We arrived at their house first, stunned to see it was lit up like Clark Griswold’s house in Christmas Vacation, but the best thing was seeing Julie, her sons Ian, Adam, James (with girlfriend Lauren) and daughter Kathy with her husband Chris and two children Harrison and Darcy.
We followed James’s car in a convoy and parked up next to the chapel where we met Terry, Julie’s husband who gone straight there from work. There was a real mix of generations there from the very young (ten months) to the young at heart (90 years plus)!
The set up was very simple with all the Carol’s words displayed on a projection screen to sing along to and instructions to follow.
One was in Welsh, so I hummed the tune and tried to look knowledgeable, one of the poems was from “Hard Times”, but a Welsh rather than the Dickensian version and very moving as well as humorous at the same time.
One thing that struck me very positively was the informal nature, with no central religious figure leading the congregation, but members taking it in turns which I found very compelling.
I haven’t sang so much in ages, it reminded me so much of my schooldays, but even more evocative was that feeling of community, family values and I suppose growing older and just maybe, wiser. Anyway we all enjoyed it and hope to go back again next year.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas to you all!