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We've just come back from the Christingle service at church. It was the most delicious mix of Christmas carols, over excited children and candle lit beauty of our wonderful church.

I came away with mixed emotions. I love Christmas carols. They always make me tear up a bit. I get over emotional about the sentimentality of Christmas and the hope that it brings for humanity, especially at a time when the world is so broken. At a service like Christingle I also get reminded of our own childlessness and that brings a saddness all of its own.

But amongst the bittersweet tears there is an absolute joy. I've always thought that one of the perks of working at the shop is that you get to watch all the children of the village grow up. In the seven years I've worked there, I've watched as babies became toddlers and then primary school goers - they say that it takes a village to raise a child and I'm a true believer of that. The shop has often rewarded children when we've seen them doing something exceptional and as well as gently remind them of manners should the need arise. To see them all at church, just now, was lovely.

The Christingles service was chaotic! Most of the time, you couldn't hear what was going on over the noise of children playing with toys or chattering away, but it didn't matter. The joy was in seeing them all get excited to get their candles and then watch them walk nervously around the church with the candle light lighting up their faces. Some being unable to resist the sweets that symbolise the fruits of the earth and others patiently waiting to the end of the service before starting to enjoy them. To be an observer of the chaos is part of the fun and it's one of my most favourite things. I have always wondered, as I'm sure many of you have, about the logic behind giving all the under 12's in the village a lit candle to parade around the church, but it really is beautiful and thankfully, as far as I'm aware, no village church has gone up in flames as a result. Comical, as well, as you watch candles coming precariously close to fringes and ponytails!

The true hero of the hour, apart from Jesus (who is pretty good) is, of course, Dodie. We are so lucky to have her. She really is a precious gem in the crown of St Mary Bourne. She works tirelessly to ensure that our church remains active and alive and takes a genuine personal interest in each and every child that lives here. I love the eccentricity of some of her services, like the animal service and Christingles - I love to hear her whistling down the street or watching her whiz by on her bicycle with her guitar. She really is one in a million.

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