In an Old Mountain Bar on Christmas Eve

“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.” ― G.K. Chesterton,


Well, my Christmas turned out quite differently than I imagined. We needed to celebrate on Sunday because all the medical people in the family were on for Christmas. On Friday evening, I made my Farmer’s Cheese from scratch, feeling quite proud of myself. Then came the pierogi dough even though I was feeling quite dizzy.

Sadly, I ended up with what is probably the norovirus and landed pretty much in bed for a couple of days. The medical police threw away the cheese and dough, making comments like “Hey look, here is a dough ball of germs!”  Today, I’m slowly recuperating and a bit sad that I am not well enough to attend services this evening. But, I have much to be thankful for. My dear family took care of all the details and we still had a wonderful time together.

I planned to write something about Mary and Christmas but I’m still a bit yucky so you all get a rerun of one of my favorite posts ever.


“A Child wandered in on some bums where they hid.” Old City Bar -Trans Siberian Orchestra

The quotes is from the song “In an Old City Bar” which is linked to at the bottom of the post. You may want to play it as you read.

True Confession: My favorite Christmas music is by the Trans Siberian Orchestra which will probably cause some out there to claim “Ah ha! I knew she was a heretic.” I have seen them in person twice, one time with Deb. Oddly, I found myself in tears listening to one of their songs “In an Old City Bar.” Usually, that means I need to think.  And then I remembered…

It was our second year of marriage and we were living on the Navajo Indian Reservation. We were not going to be able to go home to the Boston area for Christmas. I was pretty sad since it would be the first Christmas away from my extended family. Christmas was a big deal at my house: food, games and presents. My father would wrap his presents to us, on purpose, in the worst possible way. Torn paper bags, string, ripped wrapping paper, glue and rubber bands. We would laugh so hard; he the loudest and longest of all. In fact, the presents we looked for the hardest were Dad’s crazily wrapped presents.

I was pleased that we decided to spend Christmas in a little town called Ouray in Colorado. It would provide a distraction. Back then, Ouray was small, nestled in the mountains. It’s fortunes have since changed and it is a now a bustling and trendy town. It was a fairly long drive from Gallup, New Mexico. We drove north past Shiprock and through the mountains surrounding Telluride. It was snowing quite heavily and we were forced to put on chains or the police would not let us into the dangerous passes. It was a bit scary.

When we arrived, the little town was deserted. We tried to check into our cabin but the people who ran it had gone away. They left a note with a key on the door of the cabin, along with some firewood, and said to slip the check under the front door of their house when we left. We were totally alone. In fact, we would never meet our hosts and have often remarked about their trust in their unknown guests.

We decided to try to find something to eat but everything was shut down except for a bar with a neon light that said “Open.” In we tromped, cold and tired. This was not some trendy watering hole. It was a plain old bar. The bartender said he could rustle up a burger for us and down we plopped. I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I had survived a treacherous car drive and was now sitting in an old bar, damp and tired, sipping a mediocre glass of wine with a bunch of drunks who probably got tossed out by their families.

And he (the Child) asked did we know
That outside in the snow
That someone was lost
Outside our door

As I looked around, we realized that, of the dozen or so people in the bar, we were the only couple. Everyone else was alone. Faces were bent over their drinks. Most of them looked sad and tired. There were several mountain men, kind of Duck Dynastyesque, with long beards, flannel shirts and jeans.

The bartender turned
and said, not that I care
But how would you know this?
The child said I noticed
If one could be home,
they’d be already there

Then, a man stood up. He looked like a businessman, more well dressed than all of us. He sat down at the piano. I do not think this was expected because the bartender looked a little rattled. To our surprise, the man began to play Christmas carols and he played them well. As time passed, people began to sing along, including the guys whose faces had been hunched over their mugs of beer. As they sang, they started to look around. As we caught each others eyes, we nodded and smiled, just a little bit. Even the bartender was singing quietly along.

Oh, was I mad at myself! I realized that the people in the bar were lonely and sad while I was sitting around, feeling sorry for myself. I was judging them instead loving them. Jesus not only loved them; He understood them. He was born in a cave, amongst the animals, to a teenage mother who was far from her home when she should have had the comfort of her family as she labored. Instead, it was only Joseph who most likely was not adept in birthing babies since that was often left up to the women. Can you imagine the judgment of those who knew about this woman giving birth in a cave, of all places?

Back at the bar, we began to leave after we sang “Silent Night.” The quiet sounds of “Merry Christmas” were heard. There were even a few pats on the back. The Child, 2,000 years later, still brought people together in very strange places.

The next morning, the sun came out and we drove up to a cross country ski area. The snow was too deep to easily ski. We were all alone, not another person could be seen or heard. It was so quiet that it almost hurt our ears. I thought about the quiet of a cave from which came an explosion that was louder than a nuclear bomb. It would forever change the landscape of this world. The drunk in the bar meant as much to this Child as the greatest of kings. In fact, I think He may feel even closer to them than to the privileged and arrogant.

So, as my kids grow up and leave home, I plan to find some places where people, outcast and alone, are spending Christmas Eve. Do not be surprised to see a woman, with cute shoes, sipping a glass of mediocre wine, on Christmas Eve in a run down bar. This time, however, she will have a have a sack with some presents to give to them. As she does, she plans to let them know that there is a Child who cares for them and knows what it is like to be in a strange place on Christmas Eve.


In an Old Mountain Bar on Christmas Eve — 32 Comments

  1. Well done and Merry Christmas from Aotearoa New Zealand!

    We are among the first across the dateline I think – so celebrate the coming of our Messiah early.

    Thank you Dee for all the care, passion, angry tears and joyous laughter that you bring through this blog.

    Let’s all remember that for every power hungry leader and reality denying abuser there are many hundreds of thousands of us ordinary believers loving and praying and wanting His Kingdom to come in power and healing.

    Some of us celebrate Christmas in jail for being in a house church in China, some of us are celebrating Christmas in a hut in Cambodia, some of us are singing carols about Jesus in a high rise apartment in Japan. We do not hog the media spotlight, no one writes articles about us. We are not part of any power group. But we quietly obey the Saviour and pray for our cities and villages, preach the gospel to those that will listen, feed the hungry and care for the poor and the sick in mind and body. We are part of an everlasting Kingdom that stretches into eternity and one day we will stand together from every nation before the Son of God and He will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will sing together – Free at last, Praise God Almighty we are free at last.

  2. Chris Parsons,

    Thank you, Chris, for those beautiful words. Merry Christmas, to you and to all. As I sit in my – for the moment – quiet house, while the kids go bowling before the Christmas service, I will say a prayer for all those who are alone or lonely in the crowd; may the love of God, and the hope Jesus brings slip into the sad places and fill them with joy. May all know that they are not truly alone, as the One who loves them most is near and willing to comfort us with tidings of comfort and joy.

  3. Chris Parsons,

    Thank you for reading this blog. I still am started that anyone is interested. Then, you come in all the way from New Zealand. Wow! No matter where we are we are all celebrating-in sickness and health, those in prison and those free, rich, poor …all one because of Him.

    Merry Christmas. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face tonight!

  4. Thanks, Dee, for that moving post. I’m sorry that things did not go as you had hoped, but glad that you are surrounded by loving care. Merry Christmas!

  5. I’m so sorry about your illness, Dee. I’ve spent many a holiday likewise, it’s no fun but one way or another memories are made, right? lol! Hoping for your speedy recovery and wishing you and yours all the best in the coming year. Thank you so much for the work you do here, you have been a great blessing to so many of us. Very thankful I found this page.

  6. Dee wrote:
    “Sadly, I ended up with what is probably the norovirus”
    So sorry! Wouldn’t wish that stuff on anyone. I did a norovirus Easter a few years ago. No rabbit, no eggs, no church… Mrs A A ended up in hospital. Had to cancel a cruise scheduled a few days later. Ironic, seeing it’s called “cruise ship virus”.

  7. drstevej: Today would Jesus be born under a table? And be visited by the three wise pugs?

    That would be awesome. My favorite scene is Mr. Bean playing with the nativity set, complete with a Dalek and a T-rex, in Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean.

    Dee, hope you’re feeling better soon, and your Christmas Day goes well.

  8. Merry Christmas to Dee and the pugs, and all at TWW from a hot and sunny South Africa. I hope you are feeling better soon, Dee. Sounds like you can have a quiet day to rest today.

  9. Estelle,

    All the way from beautiful South Africa?! Merry Christmas and thank you for reading. You will never know how grateful I am.

  10. Dave A A,

    It is often referred to as a cruise ship virus. It’s highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Yep-that diagnosis would limit the number of candy eggs consumed.

  11. SiteSeer: it’s no fun but one way or another memories are made,

    I will never forget my nurse daughter and doctor husband laughing and throwing away my * dough ball of germs.* So glad you are here as well.

  12. Twelfth!

    A very merry Christmas to Wartburgers east and west, and we all wish you a speedy recovery, Dee. Thankyou so much for everything you do.

    Nollaig Chridheil air a h-uile duine!

  13. Dee, hope you are on the mend soon! My family is out of town this year, so I’m enjoying a quieter Christmas and more time to focus on the miracle of God Incarnate. I’m also making my elderly cat blissfully happy. Every time I sit, she parks!

  14. TS00,

    Bless you Dee, it is so great to be a part of a worldwide network of believers in Jesus. I loved the mountain bar story with all the snow etc. Down here it is a summer Christmas but we still decorate our Christmas trees with fake snow which is hilarious (a reminder of our English and Scottish ancestors who shivered through Christmas while we put on sun-screen).

    There is a lot of work to do to see new generations of men and women leaders rise up to lead the church who are true servant leaders. There are already a lot of those kind of leaders but they don’t look for the spotlight – we have met many of them on the mission field.

    Keep up the good work and may God Bless you and your pugs in 2019 🙂

  15. Calbharaigh

    Chan eil mo shùil air Calbharaigh
    no air Betlehem an àigh
    ach air cùil ghrod an Glaschu
    far bheil an lobhadh fàis,
    agus air seòmar an Dùn Èideann,
    seòmar bochdainn ’s cràidh,
    far a bheil an naoidhean creuchdach
    ri aonagraich gu bhàs.


    My eye is not on Calvary
    nor on Bethlehem the Blessed,
    but on a foul-smelling backland in Glasgow,
    where life rots as it grows;
    and on a room in Edinburgh,
    a room of poverty and pain,
    where the diseased infant
    writhes and wallows till death.

    (Somhairle MacGill-Eain)

  16. Merry Christmas and I hope you are feeling better. Having medical professionals in your life is always a good thing (else I would have bled to death from a never-ending nosebleed, instead of learning I need medication for high blood pressure and learning I have a heart defect).

  17. ___



    We could wonder the world over a life time and never find a better deal than what Jesus offered (John 3:16) the Israeli religious leader Nicodemus some two thousand years ago…

    ‘O’ Star of Bethlehem shine on!’




    – –

  18. A belated Merry Christmas to all, especially Dee and GBTC. Dee, my canine page-a-day calendar featured a pug in a Santa outfit yesterday.

  19. OldJohnJ,

    Wonderful to hear from you, OldJohnJ; I hope that you are as well as may be.

    I don’t doubt you are following the progress of New Horizons towards Ultima Thule as keenly as I am!