This ornament, painted by Etienne years ago for Mother and her late husband, after whom Etienne's youngest is named, has two angels in the mode of Flemish painters of the sixteenth century. These angels were, pardonnez moi, from a painting of the end, not a nativity, though one imagines angels making all sorts of music as the heavenly host in the visit to the shepherds. Surely horns are de riguer at both.
Beginnings and ends. At Noel we recall these things. Some churches spend much time on Advent, the waiting, and several Sundays before that they consider the end of all things - of the world, of us, of our loved ones. We tie off the circle of the year and start anew with the birth of a babe who we all know, unless we are reading the story for the very first time, will also be taken from his friends too soon. There will be a resurrection, but first there is a loss and a time of grieving.
And so this post is for those who are without someone who would have made this Noel brighter. Our hearts are especially tender to you, mon amis. If we live long enough, we will all miss someone at Christmas. We are all with you, en esprit, hoping you are with other loved ones who can share your Noel, give joy to the season, and also share the memories of special hearts no longer here.