John J. & Douglas Haydel)
Maxwell Touring Car was the only one available for us to ride in
to go to Midnight Mass. For some reason, that idea did not
work, so someone said, "Let's walk. It's a perfect night." So
it was agreed, and after much bustling about we located
overcoats, shawls, jackets, goulashes, gloves, knitted caps and
even spats (Uncle Adras wore gray spats). After all these items
were pulled from our hall closet and the hall tree, our jolly
group was ready.
As we went
out the front door, a sweet feminine voice exclaimed, "No one
told me that it was so cold!" The front yard was long and wide
with two pecan and two oak trees casting deep shadows from the
full moon. As we went out the picket fence onto the roadside,
the gravel crunched under our feet. It was a clear night, no
wind, but very cold. As we passed the Dufour home, some cried,
"Oh, look there!" From the porch rafters hung a suckling pig,
dressed hens, sausages, a fresh ham, and other meats for the
Christmas dinner...all pink and glistening from the new frost.
on to the church, along with the cars and a school bus (a wagon,
really), even a couple of hardy souls on horseback.
Noel!" "Comme ça va?" and other greetings were being
exchanged. The bells tolled; the doors opened; and the organ
was playing, "Silent Night." The aroma of melting candle wax,
incense, and cedar branches greeted the faithful. The crèche,
or nativity scene, was the main attraction.
music swelled as the procession entered. First came the servers
in their crisp white surplices, their little brass bells
tinkling. The priest's silver hair highlighted his white and
gold brocade vestments. My mother's lovely, clear soprano voice
began the opening hymn; the choir joined in; the liturgy began.
ended, people filed out quietly, singing the tender hymn, "Good
Night, Sweet Jesus." Getting a ride home was no problem.
Friends and neighbors happily drove us home where a large pot of
sausage and chicken gumbo awaited us, including some of the good
souls who took us home. And so, to bed -- a content, warm and