“Write about what makes your community special,” the contest rules read. Even though I forgot where I saw this, the thought stuck in my head like a bow on a gift. Not because I contemplated entering the contest, but more trying to pinpoint what it is that makes my community special. Because there are more reasons than tinsel on a Christmas tree, this is difficult to determine. It took tiny voices to help me focus on some of them.
It’s become a Christmas tradition for the mothers of our Hutterite colony to go on a special shopping trip. Sometimes, this takes them to shopping centres in Grand Forks and Fargo. For this three day excursion a bus is borrowed from a neighbouring colony. With so many gone at the same time, those stoking the home fires, happily fill in for the shoppers: There are three different cooks for a few days. The dish washing rotation is a mixture of the four regular shifts. “Which dish wash group is it anyway?” One woman jokes. “It’s like fruit basket upset.” In the children’s dining room the German teacher has someone other than his wife helping him supervise the children during meals. Babysitters replace moms. Meanwhile one Kindergartner comes to school all day with mom and grandma gone.
Working in school, I’m privileged to listen to little voices in conversation. The childish chatter of six Kindergarten students during their mid-morning break is especially heart-warming. Before eating their snack, one of them says grace, “Wir bitten dich himmlischer Vater...” After which Joel promptly announced, “Yesterday evening I prayed that the moms come home safely.” A lump the size of a fruit drop cookie lodges in my throat. Instilled in this five-year-old is a sense of community; not only has he learned to pray for the protection of his own mommy, but others as well. Another little voice has me quickly swallowing ‘my cookie’.
“Linda, is my mom coming home today.” Evelynne asks with imploring blue eyes. “I cried for her last night.”
“Yes,’ I assured. “They should be here at supper time.” With a face twinkling like a Christmas light, she returns to her snack. They have just been gone a few days and already their absence is like a Christmas tree without lights.
At home after school, listening to Christmas music while working on my laptop a chipper voice rings through the public address system. “The mothers have crossed the border and should be here around 7:00. As the last strains from ‘I’ll be home with bells on’ fades away, I smile, thinking of my students.
A few hours later, family and friends watch from the snow-packed parking lot as the bus rolls into our colony. With quiet gratitude I take in this joyous scene of squealing children dancing around their dads. As the moms step from the bus, engulfed by smiles, cheers and hugs, another ‘fruit drop cookie’ lodges in my throat. “This is my community,” resonates in my heart like a symphony.
The glories of his righteousness…
And wonders, wonders of his love.
(Coming soon - a beautiful article by a guest blogger:
Hutterite Christmas Traditions.)