Visiting a medieval town over the holidays should be a magical and postcard-like experience. However, the mad rush to buy all those gifts before it starts raining again is what I found in a recent visit to York in the northern United Kingdom. The retail stores have lines, the streets look like swarms of something scary, the restaurants are all packed to the windows, folks are dressed up like Vikings, and you can barely find a place for a nice scone and a hot tea.

But, on our way to get a cab home after dinner at Drake’s, a local fish and chips place, my daughter said, “Let’s just stop by the Minster” – York’s famous cathedral.

We walked in and found yet one more crowd of people, filling the vast and vaulted space. We were handed programs and we sat down, neither of us knowing what was happening to draw such a crowd, but happy just to follow where our feet took us. And we spent the next hour and a half enjoying a serenely glorious Christmas carol service with some lovely prayers and liturgical dancing – when we thought we were on our way to get a cab home.