Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard on High, Away in a Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear….these are familiar carols of the season. Ones that take me back to childhood.
Music is such a big part of Christmas for me.
We sang in the car – even if we were just coming to Greenville back from my Aunt Frances’ house in Pelzer. We sang many favorites including the ever-popular She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain When She Comes. I was the ‘littlest’ so I always sat in the front between my parents. My mom has a pretty, very clear voice, so we would ring out every song – loud and clear – except Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We used our soft voices for that so we wouldn’t wake up the stars.
While Christmas shopping uptown, running from Belks to Iveys and Meyers Arnold, we dodged (or sometimes didn’t successfully dodge) the old parking meters as we excitedly ran from store window to store window to see the decorations. In the car, I distinctly remember looking at the lights and bells strung across Main Street and singing Silver Bells with my mom. We quickly transitioned into White Christmas, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and The Christmas Song…
We always had music in our home. I remember my mom and my grandma – who just played shaped notes – banging out tunes on the old upright piano.
My brother and I each took piano lessons. It was like torture for me but my brother was the master of the it. His hands flew all over the piano playing what was written and whatever he thought appropriate to improvise in. We had all of the Christmas sheet music and books. We would stand around the piano for hours – him playing and me singing every song. Precious memories. I wish we still did this when we visit “home” at Christmas.
If my mom couldn’t find me during the holidays, she would know that I was sitting in the chair beside the Christmas Tree listening to my favorite Christmas album. One side was a collection of my favorite carols and the other was a narration of The Night Before Christmas and some other readings about the nativity, Jesus and the Christmas Star. I would let my mind wander and the lights blur in my eyes. I suppose you could say this was how I dreamed of sugar plums…
I’ve been in a choir since I could stand up to sing. Mary Did You Know in every arrangement possible was my fav
orite after I got old enough not to be singing about the donkeys going clop clop clop…
There is so much beloved music at Christmas – Sussex Carol, Magnificat, In the Bleak Midwinter …. whether we’re singing Bach, Brahms, Byrd, Duruflle or Handel, amazing memories, imagery and emotions are annually reborn.
Much of our Christmas mood centered around our choir music even more than usual since we didn’t decorate and weren’t home for several of the December weekend days. I really enjoyed the altar and Chrismon tree in our church. I found myself gazing at them as I used to do our family tree as a child.