The book launch for Snow Softly Falling was a couple of weeks ago, and it was standing room only. One of forty-eight Prince Edward Island authors whose stories or poems appear in this anthology, my piece is titled “Christmas Eve Debutante.”
The book’s cover is lovely, but after last winter I’m not sure about snow softly falling here on Prince Edward Island!
It’s memoir, set in West Vancouver, at Midnight Mass, 1972.
Here’s a short selection:
St. Christopher’s features a gargantuan pipe organ that climbs the wall and fills the space behind the altar like a Virginia Creeper. Diminutive Miss Rochester, the organist, wears a burgundy tam with a small hawk feather held in place by a glittering silver pin. She sits on a large bench pulled up to her keyboard at the far side of the pews.
She has been playing Christmas hymns softly, but suddenly she amplifies the sound and breaks into “All My Heart Rejoices” when a procession of black-and-white robed figures, one carrying a huge, brightly polished brass cross enters at the back of the church and makes its way up the centre aisle. Frankincense puffs out of the thurible swung side to side by the altar boy who brings up the rear.
Chatter stops and some children who’d been sleeping like lap dogs, small collapsed lumps in the pews, wake up. The minister, carrying a gold-embossed bible, smiles at me when he reaches the altar. I am sure he wonders why I have suddenly reappeared in his church after a three-year absence, and why I’m dolled up in a Jane Austin dress like I’m at a late-eighteenth-century genteel English ball.
When I found out in confirmation classes that the Anglican Church exists partially because Henry XIII couldn’t get a divorce from Anne Boleyn, and that he had lopped off her head, I’d decided it was a pretty sketchy beginning. So after the big day in my white dress, white wrist-length gloves, and white shoes, with the bishop of New Westminster, the purple-and-gold pointed mitre upon his head reaching halfway to heaven, I had distanced myself.
Snow Softly Falling is edited by Richard Lemm, and published by Acorn Press.