The afternoon light was dim in the church as I came up the back stairs in the early afternoon. December is that way around here. I was struck by the stool pulled up behind the lectern. Velvet upholstery on the top, it has clear memories for me.
Long ago, I waited for my grandmother to do her duties as she served on the altar committee. Not very glamourous, the altar committee kept the altar clean, kept the candle wicks trimmed, and filled and washed the tiny individual communion cups once a month. Most of the work was done on Saturday afternoon and often I was along. I sat on the stool sometimes, although, back then it was used by the pastor to kneel down upon during the Sunday church service.
The stool is no longer regularly used for kneeling.
But I imagined a Sunday School student practicing for the Christmas program, using the microphone, and needing to be taller to be effectively picked up and amplified. The stool is still handy and useful.
The stool, I believe was made of scraps that were left over when the church was built. The cushion covering matches the velvet in the drape behind the altar. It felt like I had found an old friend.
I tipped it over, because I knew it bears Grandpa;s name. Someone, but not grandpa, carved his name in the end piece. This was not what I was looking for.
This is my grandfather's work. Thumbscrews, he loved those, so that the top can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement. I doubt that the top of this stool has ever been cleaned or replaced.
Then I noticed what I had been looking for. Above the stamp on the wood, in Grandpa's handwriting, written in heavy pencil I read:
"Made by O. J. Huso 1954"
That is the year I was born. And I am here now sitting on this stool that he made for this church. As I look out into the pews, I remember where he sat and how he looked with Grandma beside him. This is home.
I could see the Advent wreath, also his work had been carefully put in place by a present day committee. It is ready and waiting for the first Sunday in Advent, when the first blue candle will be lit. The candleholder has been repainted so I didn't check to see if he signed it. I didn't care.
I had found Christmas. It was everywhere.
Music and voices echoed carols.
Sometimes Christmas, with its peace and joy, is hard to find.
But today, in our little church in GriggsDakota, it was everywhere.