Aunt Nettie was visiting once around Christmas when our church was having its annual pageant. She went with us. I was scheduled to sing "Oh, Holy Night," and I was really nervous. Our pianist was taking piano lessons and couldn't play very well so anyone who could play their own music would do so. I took my trusty guitar for my solo.
If I do say so myself, I really did that song justice that night. After it was over, Nettie was crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said I had sung the song so beautifully if made her cry. She really meant it and I have never forgotten her saying that. Every time I sing that song, I think of Nettie.
Another time, I was in charge of the church's Christmas program and, of course, it was going to be a musical. Henry Rife, Cassell and Rocky were going to sing "We Three Kings." I was going to play for them and the first time they practiced together, I couldn't believe how awful they sounded. Peggy promised to help Henry at home and Rocky said he would help his dad learn the right tune. Try as they might, Henry and Cassell just could not sing that song in tune, though goodness knows they really tried. Poor Rocky was so disgusted that he was about to give up but I begged him to go through with it since we were short of kings.
The big night came and I was so embarrassed at having to be on stage with them and I know Rocky was too. I started playing and they got started singing. Cassell and Henry were known to be loud singers and this night was no exception. The first few words were sort of "iffy" as far as the tune was concerned but suddenly they started sounding really good. I was shocked and Rocky was smiling. Henry and Cassell sang as if their lives depended on it and I could see Peggy with tears welling in her eyes. Needless to say, they were so proud that they had sung so well but, according to them, it sounded the same as it always had since they never knew they were singing it out of tune in the first place. The Bible says to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord" and that's what they did.
At a church we had attended before we moved, I was asked to sing "What Child is This?" in the Christmas pageant. I'd never heard the song, so I bought the sheet music and learned it. I really worked hard to get it just right. I was going to play my autoharp and sing the song (sort of in the shadows on the stage) while other members performed the nativity. I was so afraid I couldn't find my "home" key (I was singing it in C#, or some weird key.) in the semi-darkness, so I pasted a little felt dot on it.
People came from other churches for the program and the building was packed. A member told me later that, while I was singing, a man next to him commented on my singing and how beautiful it was. Alvin told him we had good singing like that at our church all the time. Again, it almost brought me to tears to get that compliment.
One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was when we'd go to church to see the pageants. I still remember the little treat bags containing an apple, an orange, a tangerine, and assorted nuts and candy. It really was a treat for us to get them because Mother would let us start eating out of them right away instead of saving them until Christmas. People who never went to church would show up that night. I'm sure that little treat bag was all some of them got for Christmas.