Strange, how some things stick in your mind through all the years. A Christmas memory I vividly recall happened in 1956. It was a few days before Christmas and Uncle Jim, my Aunt Jodi and Mama Ida had come from North Carolina to spend Christmas at our house in Lewisburg, WV. With an hour or two of sunlight remaining, I asked my uncle if he wanted to take the dogs out and look for a covey of quail near our house. He accepted, we found a nice covey right before dark, Uncle Jim shot a bird that flew his way and I missed my shot. But a great day overall.
That night, our Junior High Fellowship group from Old Stone Presbyterian had agreed to go Christmas caroling – not my preferred activity – but since it was such a joyous occasion, I was all in. To make things better, Uncle Jim (easily my favorite uncle) agreed to be one of the chaperones and entertained us royally.
I am a tenor. The reason I know this is that’s where they put me whenever I sing in a group. I’m often unsure which note is which, but I never had a problem with the high notes. I suppose is has to do with all the shrieking I did as a boy.
Anyway, we went from house to house, belting out all the familiar Christmas carols. When we came to Nancy Gibson’s house on Seneca Trail, the entire Gibson family came to the door and we decided to sing “The First Noel.”
If you recall, the ending chorus of this carol goes, “No-oh-el, No-oh-el, No-oh-el, No-oh-el-el; Born is the King, etc.”
For some reason still unknown to me to this day – I guess it was because I was so caught up in the spirit of that moment – on that last “No-oh-el-el”, I went for the high note, delivering a Pavarotti-like finale.
It was such that when I hit that last note, the entire caroling ensemble of 12- and 13-year old’s stopped singing, turned around and looked my way as if to say, “What the hell was that?”
Then we finished the carol and moved on to the next house.
Since that night, each time I sing “The First Noel”, I remember going Christmas caroling in 1956, and yes, I still for go for the high note.