December 23, 2006

On Christmas eve in the morning

December 24, 2001. It was my first Christmas with the local newspaper; I drew the Christmas eve beat. My only assignment was to scout around for a Christmas shot. With the city lit up and festooned the way it was, I knew that wouldn’t be impossible. The biggest challenge would probably be choosing which house, draped with twinkling icicles and studded with store-bought cheer, to shoot.

It was a challenge I wouldn’t have to face. As I was driving by St. Andrew late that morning, I spotted a family visiting the nativity scene. I pulled into the lot and started to walk across the lawn… and to my disappointment, the family was starting to leave. There is a proscription in journalism against setting up a shot, so all I could do is watch helplessly as the moment dissolved. The toddler, however, seemed to be lingering at the crèche…fascinated, no doubt, by his sacred counterpart, asleep in the hay. I introduced myself to the parents, but they didn’t speak English. I gestured that I would like to take a photo of the nativity scene (and hoping the child wouldn’t move) They smiled their assent. That’s when the child turned around.