Christmas · Memoirs · Uncategorized

Christmas Caroling

caroling“Silent Night,” “Joy to the World!” I love to sing Christmas carols. As a child, we sang those precious songs at church and school. I never grew tired of them.

One year when I was in high school, Margie Miller, one of our multi-talented teachers, taught us “O Come All Ye Faithful” in Latin. It sounded so similar to the Spanish many of my friends spoke. In our small community, I heard Spanish often. We had Spanish in fourth grade so I had an early introduction to learning this language.

The sound of this familiar Christmas hymn mesmerized me. Fifty-plus years later today, I can still sing those Latin words to that wonderful old song.

I grew up at a time when church and state were not as separate as they are today. As a high school, we drove around Branson on the back of a hay truck singing Christmas carols for the community. This became my favorite caroling experience.

We knew everyone in town, so it was delightful to see the response from our friends and neighbors when we drove up to their houses. Most of the audience was elderly and their eyes shone with joy as they heard traditional songs they loved. At key points, someone served hot chocolate and cookies to us chilly carolers.

Yes, it was cold on the back of that flat bed truck. We dressed warm with layers of sweaters and heavy winter coats. A bright scarf and hand-knitted hat kept my head and neck warm. Warm mittens kept my fingers toasty and snow boots donned my feet. I have the worst time keeping my feet warm, so I remember cold feet no matter what I had on my feet.

After about an hour of singing, we would go back to the school for our annual high school Christmas party. The main focus of the party was dancing — country and western dancing.

I have so many precious Christmas memories in that small town and school, but this one rings strong and bright.

Lyrics to

O Come All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful,

Joyful and triumphant!

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

Come and behold him

Born the King of Angels:

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.

God of God,

Light of Light,

Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;

Very God,

Begotten, not created:

Sing, choirs of angels,

Sing in exultation,

Sing, all ye citizens of Heaven above!

Glory to God

In the highest:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,

Born this happy morning;

Jesus, to thee be glory given!

Word of the Father,

Now in flesh appearing!



Latin Lyrics:

Adeste Fideles

Laeti triumphantes

Venite, venite in Bethlehem

Natum videte

Regem angelorum

Venite adoremus, Venite adoremus,

Venite adoremus, Dominum

Cantet nunc io

Chorus angelorum

Cantet nunc aula caelestium

Gloria, gloria

In excelsis Deo

Venite adoremus, Venite adoremus,

Venite adoremus, Dominum



Cutting Down Our Own Christmas Tree

hometree Growing up in southeastern Colorado, we could choose any tree on our family ranch to become our star Christmas tree every year. We never bought a Christmas tree when I was growing up. Why would we? We could cut our own–free for the selection and lots of fun.

Mom and I would start looking for this year’s Christmas tree during hunting season in October.

“There’s the perfect one,” Mom pointed to a small three foot piñon pine tree that she wanted to put up on the coffee table. She went on and on about the virtues of a small tree. Dad, Bub, my brother, and I moaned and groaned. Oh, not this again, but we knew her–she always wanted a small tree.

Driving a little farther near the canyon, I spotted a regal six foot piñon pine tree and exclaimed, “Here it is! Let’s mark this one. This is it for sure–our Christmas tree for this year.”

Dad and Bub shook their heads in agreement. We continued our back and forth about small trees and big trees. Then we would continue our task of hunting for a deer to have venison meat for the winter.

This routine repeated itself throughout the months of October and November and into the beginning of December. Mom lost most often with the three of us outnumbering her on the big tree.

One year, the three “big Christmas tree lovers” overdid ourselves though.

The time had come to go to the ranch to cut down our tree. For some reason, Mom didn’t go, so the three of us knew there would be no argument and that the tree would be big this year. We scouted out familiar ones that I had mentally marked throughout the fall, but Dad and Bub spied one they wanted. The saw came out, and they cut it down as a team, laughing about how Mom would reacted. Yes, it looked fabulous out on the ranch against the deep blue sky. We admired our tree and laughed about Mom’s possible response.  What added to the joy of our selection was it was our first year in our new home with higher ceilings, so the taller the better.

We prepared for Mom’s comments–rehearsed our answers to her probing questions. We drove up out front of our house and backed the pick up into the driveway so it would be easier to carry it in.

I hurried up the walk to talk to Mom. She stuck her head out the door, quizzing me about the size. Kidding her, I replied, “It’s your size.” Her laugh told me she didn’t believe it.

It took both Dad and Bub to carry the tree up the walk and set it on the porch. Already I realized we were in trouble. The tree seemed to go on forever.

Dad took out the hacksaw and cut the bottom of the stump off evenly and slid it into the stand and tried to get it in the door. Bub and Dad wrestled with the tree and the door, trying to carry it up upright in the stand, but it wouldn’t fit, so they laid it out lengthwise and finally shoved it in the door.

Mom had cleared the area in front of the front window to showcase our tree to the world. Dad and Bub set the stand on the floor and raised the tree.

All four of us gasped at the same time–the tree reached the ceiling and curled down at least a foot! What do we do now?

Dad took control, “That’s easily fixed,” so he and Bub took the tree out on the porch and cut a foot off the bottom of the tree and brought the shortened tree in and set it up. The top of it brushed the ceiling but fit.

We stood back and admired our beautiful six foot plus tree and laughed. Mom said next year I’m for sure going with you three so we can get a smaller tree.

We all laughed, joyful at our selection and adjustment.