17 December 2010

My Christmas Newsletter

If you click on the title of this blog post, you should connect to my 2010 Christmas Newsletter!

16 December 2010

Christmas Carols

Last night our local PBS station presented a Christmas concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The program was wonderful. Guests included entertainer (and daughter of Nat King Cole) Natalie Cole and author/historian David McCullough.

Natalie performed superbly. Along with the choir and orchestra, she performed "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"; "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"; "The Holly and The Ivy"; "The Christmas Song"; "Caroling, Caroling"; and "The Grown Up Christmas List". She also recited the Christmas story from Luke.

David McCullough talked about Christmas carols particular to America. Taken from his book "In the Dark Streets Shineth", McCullough related how just weeks after Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Winston Churchill secretly traveled to meet with President Roosevelt. Together they turned on the lights of the White House Christmas Tree and addressed a crowd of 20,000 people who had gathered.

Churchill said, “This is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle…. Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us.”

The next day the two leaders attended church together and it was there that Churchill heard "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" for the first time. It was written in the 1880s by an American. McCullough said that it became one of Churchill's favorites, particularly the lines:

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" was written in 1943 by the same man who wrote "The White Cliffs of Dover". McCullough stated that "The White Cliffs of Dover" had become like an anthem to Britain. "I'll be Home for Christmas" was recorded by Bing Crosby and grossed more than even "White Christmas".

As my sister-in-law says there are so many wonderful Christmas songs, it's impossible to pick one favorite. But these are among my most cherished.

"Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" is special to me for a rather bizarre reason. It was one of my Mother's favorite Christmas songs and she would sing it a lot at Christmas. HOWEVER, she never sang the melody as written. She always sang it to the tune of "Blest Be the Tie"! Try it - it works. But even today I really have to concentrate to sing it correctly - I always hear her voice in my head singing it her way.

The Winter Emergency Box

While I was in college I traveled in my 1968 baby blue Volkswagen bug most every weekend from home (in the mountains) to school (more in the mountains). About the first of October every year, Daddy would make up a Winter Emergency Box for my car.

Below is a list of the things he would put in it:
• One of Mother’s homemade quilts
• An ice scraper
• A flashlight
• Extra batteries
• A gallon jug of water
• Several packs of Nabs (those cheese crackers with peanut butter in them)
• A bag of kitty litter
• A can of Comet cleanser (this and the litter were for use on icy roads)
• A pair of gloves
• A pair of socks

The first year he did this, I started to put it in the trunk and he quickly stopped me. He told me to at least keep it in the back seat and that when I was traveling by myself to have it within arm’s reach. He said that way if I was ever trapped in the car, I could get to it. So most times, when I was on the road, it was in the other front seat.

Thankfully I never had to use it but even now when the leaves start turning color I think about stocking my emergency box. I don’t always actually stock a box for myself but I most always have a small bag of litter stored under the back seat of my van and a flashlight in the glove compartment.

I probably need to renew that fall tradition of stocking the box. With all the new storage contraptions (Rubbermaid, etc.), it would be fairly easy to do.