It was a cold night, that Christmas eve night, as we walked back from the pub. Warmed from the fire and the food and the beer, we hunkered down inside hats and scarves and coats and boots, trying to hold onto the heat as we stepped out of the door. Every surface glittered like diamonds, reflecting the chill light of the distant stars. Behind the long snaking dry stone walls, sheep huddled together, and the night was so still and quiet we could hear them breathing. The hills rose up either side of us, crisp white with snow and bathed in the cold light of the full moon. Etched with the blue-black shadows of the winter trees and the footsteps of the fox.
As we dropped down into the village, the windows of the church glowed with the flickering gold of candlelight and the warmth of centuries-old stained glass. Around the edges of the door leaked light and sound, the sweet melancholy of In the Bleak Midwinter and the quiet rumble of prayer.
Tiny white and blue lights edged the trees, lighting our way as we walked through the streets, our footsteps muffled and creaking in the snow that had only stopped falling a few hours before. We tiptoed into the house, not wanting to break the mood of stillness, and stayed silent, arms around each other, bathed in the glow of the damped down fire and the lights of the tree. And as we stood there, the church bells pealed Christmas through the cold night air.