Christmas Contemplation: Christmas is forever

Belle Mickelson plays fiddle with staff from Dancing with the Spirit. Back row: Bobby Gilbert, Josephine Malemute and the Rev. Dr. Trimble Gilbert. Front row: Kelly May, the Rev. Belle Mickelson. Photo Courtesy Encore.org/Talking Eyes Media
Belle Mickelson plays fiddle with staff from Dancing with the Spirit. Back row: Bobby Gilbert, Josephine Malemute and the Rev. Dr. Trimble Gilbert. Front row: Kelly May, the Rev. Belle Mickelson. Photo Courtesy Encore.org/Talking Eyes Media

By the Rev. Belle Mickelson

As a child, I always loved gathering around the Christmas tree and singing Christmas carols with my family. This is the year to create some new wonderful traditions and memories — in a world we couldn’t even imagine last year. Cordovans are real leaders. I’m so proud of the way everyone has worked hard to keep us all safe — wearing masks, socially distancing, quarantining — and following the directives of our amazing medical and preparedness team. 

We’re finding new ways to celebrate Christmas — Zooming as we cook and sing with our families; getting together outdoors biking, walking, skiing, sledding and playing in the snow; and wearing our masks as we walk downtown to see the beautiful lights and decorations. This year we watched holiday dancers and musicians from outdoors; had drive-in movies; lit candles in support of our medical responders; revived and expanded the Salvation Army and the Native Village of Eyak Food Banks to help people with food and clothing; made phone calls, wrote Christmas letters and used social media to keep friend connections — while spending lots more time with our immediate families as we read the Christmas story, pray and worship online or in socially distanced ways.

The Christmas message is one of love. God surprises us by bringing love into the world through a little baby — Jesus. We are the ones who are charged with passing this message on to others—our families, our friends, the people we meet — and those around the world who need our help just to survive. And loving others is not always easy!

“Cordova is a place where even your worst enemy will buy a $15 plate of spaghetti for a fundraiser to help with your medical bills.”

— Gayle Groff

We have just come through a time of deep political division in our country. But I’m counting on Cordovans to be leaders here, too, in bringing us all together as we help each other, work on projects together — and learn to love each other even more. One of my favorite Iceworm Variety Show comments was something Gayle Groff said a few years ago. “Cordova is a place where even your worst enemy will buy a $15 plate of spaghetti for a fundraiser to help with your medical bills.” 

There are so many topics that we can agree on. We love our children; we love this beautiful place we live in; we are proud of our fishing industry and want to support the fisheries and see them survive long into the future. And the pandemic has made us realize how much we appreciate each other — and are so looking forward to the times we can gather together again. In the meantime, there is a lot we can do to help everyone feel better — as we smile with our eyes, wave, and keep in touch virtually. 

For Christmas presents — I love the idea of buying goats, chickens or pigs for people in far-off lands that really need our help. And I’m so looking forward to Christmas Eve as we light candles, sing Silent Night, and surround ourselves in the forever love that Jesus has shared with us—to pass on to others! 


The Rev. Belle Mickelson is the priest at St. George’s Episcopal Church (cordovaepiscopal.org and reddragoncordova.org) and director of Dancing with the Spirit, a program to teach guitar and fiddle in the villages (dancingwiththespirit.org).