Tinsel was in the windows, the stores were open for late shoppers and churches went ahead with Christmas Eve carol services, but the heart had gone out of the holiday in Lockerbie. Even holly wreaths bore messages of grief.
Christmas "is really the furthest thing from my mind right now. It's not important," said Joe Horgan, an American who had come to the village where a relative had died in the crash of Pan Am Flight 103.Christmas Eve was Day 3 of the search for victims of Wednesday night's crash, which showered this quiet market town with flames and shards of jagged metal.
Authorities say all 258 people aboard the Boeing 747 were killed, and at least 10 townspeople are missing.
Horgan, one of about 20 people who lost loved ones and came to the crash scene in southwestern Scotland, met briefly with reporters Saturday on condition that his hometown and any details about his relative on the flight not be disclosed.
He was accompanied by one of the social workers who were assigned to help survivors deal with their feelings.
The Rev. James Annand said the tragedy inevitably would make its mark on the midnight service at the Church of Scotland's Dryfesdale parish in the town.
"It would be very, very important to this community that everything be done properly for the deceased," said Annand, whose church is crowded round with tall gravestones.
There is no room, he said, for new graves.
His counterpart at the Roman Catholic church, the Rev. Patrick Keegans, put Christmas preparations aside Saturday to meet with relatives of the victims who had come to a counseling center in the parish hall.
Bright sunshine in the morning gave way to drizzle and then a steady rain in the afternoon as the search for victims and wreckage went on.
A half-dozen men stood watchfully opposite town hall, which is being used as a morgue for about half of the bodies recovered so far.
One woman walked up and added a bouquet to a pile of cards and flowers, which stood as testimony to the grief. She quickly departed.
One bouquet bore a tribute "to the little girl in the red dress who lies here, who made my flight from Frankfurt such fun. You didn't deserve this. God bless. Chas."
"In solidarity from the Armenian earthquake disaster fund," said a card. Another came from "someone who cares in London."
A notice board carried condolences from Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and from President Reagan.
"This is a very quiet part of Scotland. It's an area that quite has enjoyed its - I don't want to say anonymity - but it's a fairly secret place," said the Rev. John Owen, a Church of Scotland minister from the outlying parish of Loch Maben.
"For a community such as this to find suddenly in our midst so much death, it has an awesome effect," Owen said.