I’m getting ready for our annual caroling party this Friday.
The one my mother held every year for 35 years and then eventually passed on the caroling party torch to me.
It’s the time every year when we get together with our closest family friends and traipse through the neighborhood with guitars and Santa hats and sing all of our joys to the world. And then? We head back to my house for yummy food and a night of games.
It’s the party that I look forward to all year.
The one that lets me know Christmas is officially here.
But I wanted to pause in the middle of fluffing the bows and sweeping the floors and bringing extra chairs down from the attic to bring you a story about one of my favorite carols along with a few Christmas decorations to keep you company.
I know you’ve heard it before.
I’m like that.
If you are friends with me for more than five minutes you are guaranteed to hear a story at least twice and sometimes even three times over a good cup of coffee. And so here it is again, along with a little Christmas inspiration to keep you company.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy telling it.
When I was younger, I knew that I knew that I knew….
….I was going to make it onto Star Search.
To me, it wasn’t really a question of if, more of a question of when.
Just a matter of time.
I knew that one day I was going to be discovered singing quietly to myself in aisle seven of Wal-Mart. The notes would dance softly across the polished linoleum floors into the waiting ears of a big Hollywood agent who would immediately and without hesitation approach me on bended knee and offer to represent me.
And then he would whisk me away to the Star Search stage to a world of fame and fortune and a long and illustrious singing career.
It was going to be incredible.
I couldn’t wait to see my name in lights.
Except for one, tiny, insignificant, often-overlooked, minuscule detail.
I couldn’t sing.
Not even a note.
Truth? Just between us and the Star Search judges, I wasn’t aware of this fact. I truly thought I sounded amazing. I would sing in the back of my parent’s station wagon to an un-eager audience of brothers and sisters and when I belted out the high notes it sounded to me like the angels were singing a heavenly chorus.
Or so I told everyone.
And no one ever disagreed.
When I was in fourth grade, in an attempt to share my vocal prowess with the world, I tried out for the solo part in “Away in the Manger” in the Christmas program at church.
I practiced with my stuffed animals and my reluctant sisters and brothers at home.
The day finally arrived. I went to tryouts and sat at the piano in the music room with the choir director as she listened to my enthusiastic over-the-top-complete-with-choreography-totally-off-key rendition of the song.
And after the first verse, she stopped me quickly with an awkward smile and asked me if I was nervous and offered to play the song on the piano for me so I could hear the notes.
I took this as an encouragement.
The next step in the audition process.
So I sang louder and stronger with more gusto and proceeded to act out the entire first verse of the song and finished the rendition with a last note so full of vibrato that it made the chandeliers rattle. When I finished she simply sat there for a moment without saying a word. Then, in a sweet and gentle voice, she told me that she loved my dramatic song interpretation—especially the part when the cattle were lowing.
She went on to tell me she thought that I would have made an amazing soloist, but she had decided with moves like that…..
….I would make the perfect innkeeper’s wife.
And I was.
An amazing non-singing innkeeper’s wife that is.
I never sang a solo in that children’s choir.
But life went on.
And I grew up and got married and had four children and moved to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and then moved back to Texas and bought back the house that I grew up in.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
No really good story every does.
Years later, I sat in a church pew and waited with anticipation as two golden-haired, blue-eyed twins stood up in the choir loft and sang one of my favorite Christmas carols….
….Away in the Manger.
And as the piano started to play the first notes of the song I held my breath and listened as two beautiful clear voices with perfect pitch ring out loud and strong.
Every note in tune.
Every note as clear as a bell.
They finished that long ago chapter and sang the song that I never could with voices straight from my heart.
PS They didn’t add any choreography, but don’t worry I had it covered. 🙂
PPS Merry, merry Christmas week from our caroling house to yours.