Baa Humbug moved closer to the high drystone wall. The rest of the flock by now was three deep against the field walls. The night air was still and dry. It was too cold to snow and the sky was clear.
Baa Peardrop began to bleat.
“It’s been a frightful day. That terrible dog Glen fixed his eye on me and I was turned to stone, Mr Thackeray grabbed me and shoved me in the trailer and took me off to the village church. I had to stand at the nativity play with a red bow around my neck for an hour. The children forgot their lines, the vicar as usual fussed over trivialities and the competitive, anxious parents were all dewy eyed when the carols were sung. I was even made to pose for photos. What a way to celebrate Xmas!”
She began to quake.
Her kind Baa sisters leaned hard against her.
Baa Humbug was comforting: “Calm yourself, just fix your eye on the Northern star and breathe deeply, Christmas eve is a good and special time.”
The night grew quieter and blacker on the hill. The lamps on the country lanes had gone out. The farmhouse was in darkness, the sound of barking dogs and passing vehicles had ceased. There was no more hollering and laughter from the revellers staggering home from the local pub.
Some of the flock were becoming restless, stamping their feet and curling their lips back to smell the night air. Others stood motionless gazing towards the east, anticipating, patient, watchful.
“Is it time yet Baa Humbug?” whispered Baa Sherbert. It was only her second Christmas eve on the hill and she was feeling unsure.
“Not long now, start counting the stars, time will pass quickly, ” replied Bah Humbug
The temperature was falling. Bah Humbug shuddered, it was time to move She started leading the flock out into the centre of the field. When they were all gathered, they faced east and dropped to their knees. The earth was hard, the position uncomfortable, but they had to wait, showing reverence.
They waited. All eyes searching the eastern sky. In their silent hearts and minds they knew it would come.
The thinnest shard of purple and blood orange light split the night sky. Baa Humbug slowly bowed her head and all her Baa sisters followed suit. The light grew. Frost glistened on the grass and the wall tops. Cattle bawled in the barn. White, freezing mist hung low in the valley.
This was Christmas on the hill, an acknowledgement and celebration that Christ’s light came to drive out the darkness, as his flock waited on bended knee and with bowed heads.