We knew we were not returning to Canada for Christmas even though we had a three week break. And this is basically an Islamic country, Egypt style. Would we have a little private Christmas, just the two of us, or would we treat it as just another day? There was talk with our friends Bethany and Ronnie of a trip to Luxor but two things clinched a plan. First, Mary and Brad committed to a visit with a plan to leave Ottawa on Boxing Day. Second, as previously described, I joined the Christmas Choir for St. Mark’s Pro-Cathedral in the old part of the city. And we even had a tiny tree with little camels decorating it.
The Christmas Eve service was wonderful, with a lot of music, most of the traditional carols and several acapella ones (always a little nerve wracking for the singers), and the readings from the Bible. Judy read one of them beautifully. I read another too so we really were made part of things.
Afterward, we wandered through the hustle and bustle of downtown on a Thursday evening with our friend David Thomas, up some very dark stairs to the Egyptian Seaman’s Club. An old place of course with a grizzled old maître d’ who said he could cook us some chicken and mushrooms. Nobody else was there. Judy and David had a beer and I had a ginger ale (the life of the party as usual) and it was a very nice time. We still missed our children and grandchildren a lot but it did feel like Christmas.
When you think about it, we were only a stone’s throw from where Jesus was born. And it wouldn’t be long before he and his family would escape to Egypt to avoid Herod and his awful intentions.
Reality did intrude although we ignored it. Security is a big issue around these parts of course and it is interesting to say the least to have soldiers with machine guns posted outside the church walls during the service. Life goes on even in the face of fanaticism. Christmas morning, when we attended a service at the Stanly Anglican Church, a small church in the style of an English country parish building, there were a couple of military fellows posted outside just in case. Something we don’t think about at Manotick United.