The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

December 24, 2013

A moment in time, a Christmas to remember

ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Dec. 22, 1992. We hope you enjoy it, whether you are reading it again or for the first time.

Our family had returned home from Christmas Eve services, and we were sitting around my wife’s parents’ house whiling away the hours until the big day.

Somehow the conversation got around to singing and, quite naturally, to Christmas caroling.

Some of our number had been caroling in the past, and some hadn’t.

Pretty soon somebody said, “Why not tonight, why not right now?’”

“We can’t sing,” some said, “I don’t know the words,” said others, “It’s too cold,” said ... me, as I remember.

But after a while coats began to appear, and hats and gloves. And before we knew it our ad hoc choir of parents and kids, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, in-laws and outlaws was spilling out the door and across the frozen lawn into the cold night air.

To do what? None of us quite knew for sure. Go find a house with some lights on and sing to the people inside, we supposed.

So that’s what we did. Hesitantly at first, forgetting the words (and even the tune) on occasion, but growing more confident with each stop.

We were greeted with smiles and applause and warm calls of “Merry Christmas.”

After covering the neighborhood around my in-laws’ house, we piled into cars and headed for town — there to serenade friends and relatives.

Our repertoire was eclectic — everything from “Jingle Bells,” to “Silent Night.” Some of us tried to sing harmony — particularly my wife and her two sisters, who have sung as a trio all their lives. Some of us were happy to stick with the melody.

At some stops we were offered various goodies, which we didn’t turn down. The smiles got wider, it seemed, at each stop — both ours and those of our listeners.

Among our last stops was the trailer court just to the east of my in-laws’ house — on the grounds of what used to be a one-room schoolhouse.

One small, somewhat shabby trailer sat off by itself. There were no decorations outside, but a light glowed softly from within.

We tromped up by the trailer’s only door and launched into some song or another.

Momentarily the door opened. Inside stood an elderly couple. Both were slender and white-haired, and somewhat stooped by their years.

As the singing continued, the man slipped his arms around his wife and gave her a squeeze. A moment later he wiped his eyes, and the light played off a tear making its way down her cheek.

Our singing became softer, more reverent. Some of us found we could no longer sing at all. It must have been the cold night air.

After a while we said good night, wished the couple a Merry Christmas and headed off through the chill. I will carry that picture in my mind until I am as white-haired and stooped as that couple.

The picture of them framed in the doorway of their tiny trailer, with tears in their eyes, listening to a bunch of carolers who turned a somewhat dull Christmas Eve into one of the most memorable nights of their lives.

We haven’t been caroling since. We’re all a little older now, the kids have grown up and now have kids of their own. The man and woman we moved to tears have died.

But the feeling we got from that silly, spur of the moment singing session will never die.

Merry Christmas, and may you experience that same feeling someday.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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