I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

“God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” -1 John 1:5

It’s Christmas Eve, dinner is smoked salmon fettuccine — it’s always the same, and just family (that means 17 of us tonight.) We have the extension set up and the tablecloths are ironed. Tomorrow will be more of a free-for-all.

Turkey, potluck, friends and family. Football. Chip and I went to church this morning, in case we don’t make it after dinner tonight. I like that the last Sunday in advent is also Christmas Eve this year, and that the “love” candle is now lit, and that the whole point of Christmas, of Jesus, is love. That’s the message, so simple– love one another — and still such a challenge for Christians, you know?

During the service an EMT pager went off, and I saw Fireman Al ( who had just given the children’s sermon) check his radio and walk out quickly.

My dad died two years ago Christmas Eve. Al came after dinner when we called the ambulance– not to save Papa Bob, he was already gone, but to take his body to the morgue at the firehall. (This is a good thing, all this local care of the dead– so I hope it’s not bothering you to mention it, tonight.) Papa Bob left our home for the last time with Al, and two other volunteers. He was wearing his red Christmas sweater and good blue jeans.

So when I saw Al reach for the pager, on Christmas Eve, I suddenly  missed Dad and the world I lived in with him, and my parents, and Christmas Eves so long ago and far away–

Then Al came back. It was a false alarm, or something someone else took care of.

I was so grateful, just then, for this community, for kindness, for love. For my family and happy home and  grandchildren and dogs–   For so many lights in the darkness.

My one regret with my dad, is that on his last Christmas Eve, I cut him off and didn’t let him drink a second Bloody Mary. I didn’t want him to fall. Tonight I’m going to have one for him.

Also, he was a  King James Bible guy–  so here is the Christmas story he liked best:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.