Christmas in the 1920s

By Wim Rinsma

At the end of December, when nature is sunk deepest in her sleep-death repose, silence and peace enveloped the village of my boyhood. The copper-colored shimmer of a few gas street lights invited reflection. The old Zuiderzee brushed or battered the coast with its eternally approaching waves, while the guardian eye of the lighthouse warned off ships in a night where stars spangled the infinite.

In the late 1920s there were very few Christmas trees, all of them indoors. Electric tree lights still lay in the future; nevertheless, there was a quiet and enchantment difficult to put into words. I recall walking through the village on an evening of light snow. On one side dim light gleamed furtively through the curtains of a simple house; on the other, illumination from the church's high windows glowed softly, merging with the sounds of organ music and the rustling of bare branches. At such moments it is as if one were in a different world, clothed somehow in perfect stillness. And the essence of that stillness remains.

Walking home, I heard only loose ropes ticking in the wind against the few ships at the dock. Quietly I went inside and shut the door behind me. Time, with so many other doors, where have you gone . . .

(From Sunrise magazine, December 2000/January 2001; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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