Saturday, 10 December 2011
Hark the Hero Angels sing
It is difficult to get kids to focus on the real part of Christmas when there is so much out there designed to entice and distract from the true meaning. After all, a jolly, large man in red, distributing presents and sweeties with abandon trumps a hay-filled manager scene any day in most kids' minds. So every year one of the local churches does a "real Christmas" experience for the little ones - one with no trees or fat men in red suits, but a taste of what a real Christmas so long ago must have been like. They always have a small petting farm there too, where the kids can get up close to the animals that might have surrounded the first nativity. There are a couple of sheep, usually a donkey (this year it was a small horse, but I don't think the kids really noticed), a goat or two, and the usual sprinkling of small furry creatures like guinea pigs, rabbits and even a chicken. There's something about kiddies and small animals together that just melts the heart. The boys spent about ten minutes brushing all the hair on the horse upwards in the wrong direction, so that when they were finished, it might as well have been a shaggy-looking donkey standing there anyway.
At the entrance, an "angel choir" greeted us with rousing Christmas carols (no Rudolf or Good King Wenceslas, thankfully!) but a traditional mix of Away in the Manger and Silent Night. The choir master had fully entered into the spirit of the event, and was clothed in white with huge feathered wings. There is something a tiny bit odd about seeing a grown man with a beard and angel wings, but the boys were impressed no end. "Look," whispered the one to the other, "It's Hawkman!"
I think they somewhat missed the point, but it caused a great deal of excitement. Probably more so than if he had been an actual angel. They made him a bit nervous as they followed him around adoringly for a while. And suddenly, the birth of Jesus suddenly seemed so much cooler with the added presence of a superhero at the side of the manger. Yay - real Christmas, 1, Santa, 0. It was official - the real Christmas was the best!