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December 29, 2021: Christmas Season 2021 is drawing to a close and, all too soon, it will be time to stow the decorations in the attic. We have had a great holiday with our children and grandchildren, keeping our circle limited as we continue Life in the Times of COVID-19. Our grandchildren slept over a few times and it was extra special to work along with Hugo and David on the Tech team at St. David's on the 19th and 24th. 

We started Advent with enthusiasm, so glad to be able to worship together again, however... it was not to last. Our Christmas Eve service was livestream only. It was a bitterly cold night but, in spite of the weather, our choir was well represented (masked and socially-distanced) along with the worship and tech teams. Omikron variant is so aggressive and the advice circulated from Chinook Winds Regional was to move back to livestream. Our system seems to be working very well and it is great to be able to hear the speakers through the sound system.

I'll bet you are wondering about Worship 2022! I had a long chat yesterday with Chair of the Worship Ministry, Darlene Heynen, as well as a chat with Amy Haynes, Pastoral Care Ministry. Amy will be presiding over the service on Sunday, January 2, 2022 and again on the 31st of the month. In the interim, Deb Charnuski, Council Past Chair and Chair of PSALT, will be leading service on January 9, 2022. Brent Tucker will be leading a music focussed service on January 16 and, on January 23, there is a tentative plan in place for a special ZOOM meeting with Amy and Joan Gray. Amy will be guiding us through the month of February and into the Lenten season.

We bid adieu formally to Rev. Peggy McDonagh at the conclusion to the service on the 19th when she was presented with a song written by Garrett and an oversized wall clock (her choice!!) The huge Roman Numeral numbers were echoed by the plaque which read: MMVIII to MMXX1 -- Time Spent with St. Davidians. (See the picture attached.) There will be a monetary gift presented to Rev. Peggy in the near feature. 

We welcome Mike Stockdale to the Balcony tech team on January 2, 2021. Deb Charnuski, Chair of our team, has been visiting her dad in Niagara during the Christmas season but she has joined us for all our services held during her absence. It was wonderful to be partnered with our grandson, Hugo Goasdoué-Wallace, on the Tech team. I teased Rev. Peggy that if we only had the confidence and enthusiasm of our 12-year old, all the energy expended during the Advent and Christmas season would have been easy. Thank you, Hugo!! 

Be safe, my friends, as we move into 2022. We watched a movie today where no one was masked!! Go figure! Maybe we may be able to overcome Omikron and return to in house, face to face worship sooner than later. Happy New Year!!

December 17, 2021: Be sure to check out the NEWSLETTER DEC. 19 file attachment below. 

We did it! Instead of a family celebration on St. Lucia Day, December 13, we celebrated with separate family gatherings with an abundance of Swedish inspired foods on four nights. Our Rebekka, from Ottawa, joined us from Saturday to Wednesday. Luckily we had a break on the 15th when we celebrated our wedding anniversary with a fine meal at The Keg. Our little Iris was our Lucia this year, complete with a crown of candles, white robe and red tie. As a bonus, she played three Christmas carols for us on the piano while we sang. 

We were thrilled with the new delivery system at church last Sunday for providing services in person and on line at the same time. There will be another crash course in technique, tomorrow with Deb --  continuing her teaching of Hugo and me so we can livestream Sunday's service. Deb is visiting her dad in Ontario so will miss (in person) our 'good-bye's to Rev. Peggy as we wish her well in her retirement. A presentation will be coming her way on Sunday and her last service with us will be on Christmas Eve at 7:30 -- another chance for Hugo and I to hone our skills on the new equipment. Mike Stockdale and Mike Trew are novices-in-training like ourselves so we are all on a steep learning curve. 

Stay warm. We had such a long and extended Fall that we grew quite accustomed to wearing light weight jackets. Not so, this weekend. 

December 10, 2021

This is time for our oven to work at peak performance -- hard bread bakes at 450 degrees for five minutes and, before the season ends, there will be five batches available for snacking. So good with cheese!!

Last Sunday, we got a taste of the new technical capabilities at St. David's. Allan Buckingham, Rundle Memorial United at Banff, was "the driver" of the new system and, following the service, there was an inservice provided. The good news is that there will be other training sessions and opportunities to try out running the switcher, cameras, computer, monitors...  

Rev. Peggy has requested us to think of ways that we can "house the holy" at St. David's. Responses would be most appreciated asap so that they can be included in the Christmas Eve Service at 7:30, December 24, 2021. Mental note: get my response sent!! We have also lots of opportunities to "house the holy" as we pick off tags from the Giving Tree for Calgary Centre for Newcomers and Children's Cottage Society. The gifts are accumulating, thanks to the generosity of St. Davidians. 

We have had two Sundays for in-house attendance at St. David's. Thank you for following protocol -- it's great to see your faces, although behind masks at this time. Our Sanctuary looks so incredible, decked out for Advent as a rustic Inn. You can take a peak, midweek, as you drop off your gifts. Remember that it is time for you to renew your Broadview subscription, too. Best of the season to you!

December 3, 2021

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!" On December 3, we start the ten days of preparation for the Swedish celebration of St. Lucia on Dec. 13, 2021. In years past, we entertained many people on that night - a tradition in our family since 1982. Sometimes we've had as many as 85 people for dinner. Prior to COVID-19, we had a group of 55 folk here on Dec. 13, 2019 but last year, it was a celebration on ZOOM and, this year, with a two family limit, there will be 8 of us on that date. Sad!!

With the tree up and the lights blinking, we are ready to mark the Advent season. The lighting of the advent candles at St. David's began during the Rev. Stan Errett era. I remember coming home from church, going into the garage and using a one inch drill bit, I drilled five holes in a 16" 2x2, staining it and plugging in five candles in a straight line. That advent candle system still is used every Christmas since the 1970s. Love tradition!!

Please take a read of the newsletter for this week. We are very excited about the possibility of livestreaming our service. On Sunday morning, Allan Buckingham, from Banff United Church, will be running our new system (with two cameras, a switcher, a new computer and two new monitors) for us and he will be training St. Davidians following the service. Exciting.