It’s Christmas Eve. It’s a time for wishes, even for wishes we know can’t come true.

As children, we learned early that we rarely, if ever, got all the presents we wanted at Christmas. As adults, we accept that we can’t fill the empty places at the dinner table where relatives and friends who are far away or no longer on Earth with us should be seated.

I struggle with the “can’t” part of Christmas Eve this year, knowing that I can’t be in the place I’ve been for all but a few Christmas Eves in my life: Pleasant View Christian Church.

This old photo is of the pre-school Sunday school class, with me and my twin sister Lisa on the right.

6-1-14 Pleasant View final service 072

The tiny wood framed church around the corner from our farm was closed because the 102-year-old congregation got too small to continue. The final service, potluck dinner and special program were on June 1.

The pews were filled one last time.

I took photos, of course, including one of my Mom, at right below, and Mary Arehart. Both had been church members for decades, serving as Sunday school teachers and in almost every other role as needed. While I was at the 2014 NFPW Conference in South Carolina in September, I got word during the pre-tour that Mary had a stroke. She died a few days before I got home from Greenville.

6-1-14 Pleasant View final service 091

Items inside the church, which was constructed in 1948, were given to the Franklin County Historical Museum, current and former members, and others with ties to the church’s history.

In its earlier days, the congregation had met in two other long-gone buildings, the Pleasant View School and Ash Grove Store.

Area volunteer fire departments used the empty church building for a training burn this fall. During Thanksgiving Day at the farm, my sister-in-law told me the basement hole had been filled in. I didn’t have the heart to go see the empty space where the church had been for all my life.

My cousin, who owns the property, has said he might leave the front yard trees and grass to maintain an outdoor gathering place on the Pleasant View corner.

I’ll have supper with Mom tonight, but we aren’t going to a Christmas Eve service. We would have many choices at churches with services similar to what we had at Pleasant View.

But it just wouldn’t be the same. So, maybe next year.

Christmas Eve at Pleasant View included singing all the old Christmas hymns and lighting candles. The two things were combined to close the service when we circled the one big room on the main floor, each holding a candle and singing “Silent Night.”

Silent Night1.jpg

I choose to have a different silent night this year to remember fondly and with some sadness all those Christmas Eves at that country church surrounded by people who were so important to me.

I’ll also make a wish and say a prayer that everyone’s coming new year is filled with all things merry and bright.

Advertisements