17 December 2021

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Today I'm joining sprite once again with a post for this year's Virtual Advent Tour.  She has been doing it the last few years, and I find it both interesting and a lot of fun.

Wednesday afternoon, when I was at home and The Tim was napping after his medical procedure, I was listening to Christmas carols, and singing along with some of them.  Singing Christmas carols was always something that everyone in our family did, as well all love to sing.  My father had a beautiful voice, and my middle sister has one too - my mother had a decent voice and I can carry a tune, but will never be asked to be a soloist anywhere.

And then there is my oldest sister, Nancy.  Nancy really loves to sing, and she never sings in anything but an enthusiastic manner.  The problem is, she cannot carry a tune even if one was handed to her in a bag.  I mean, she doesn't even come close to the mark.  But to her credit, she doesn't care, and still enjoys singing ... loudly ... and often.

I was thinking of one year when we had a plan to go as a family to Midnight Mass.  Both of my sisters were in high school, so I would have been in elementary school, and they convinced my parents that we should go to Midnight Mass because then we could sleep later on Christmas morning, and not have to interrupt/stop opening gifts to get ready and go out.  My parents finally gave in, and the plan was made.  

Now, it was pretty well known that if you wanted to get a seat in our nearby church at all, you had to be there absolutely no later than 11:30 p.m., and even that was pushing it.  On Christmas Eve, we were all ready to go, except for Nancy, who was still fixing her hair (being a self-proclaimed fashionista, she took longer to get ready than the rest of us combined).  She finally sashayed down the steps about 11:40, and suffice it to say that my dad was already annoyed.

Unsurprisingly, we arrived and there was pretty much standing room only.  My middle sister saw a friend of hers, who let her squeeze into the pew, and a couple of young kids got up to give their seats to my parents.  But Nancy and I would have to stand the whole time.  About ten minutes before the Mass started, some hymns were played and singing began.  The first one was "O Little Town of Bethlehem."  Well, Nancy was standing in an area of the aisle that had particularly good acoustics, and all of a sudden, all that anyone in our section could hear was her extremely off-key version of said hymn.  And as I said, we were all *very* enthusiastic singers.  As you might imagine, many heads turned and looked in our direction with either puzzled or amused expressions, but Nancy was so busy singing, she paid no attention.  And so it began.

On the way home, we were all having a good time being amused by everyone noticing Nancy's bad singing.  But my dad - who found it impossible to believe that she was that bad of a singer - kept asking her why she did it.  She would respond each time that she couldn't help it, that was just how it was.  Then he said to my mother, "Why do you let her do that??" which of course led to her saying that it wasn't her fault that Nancy couldn't sing, and how was she supposed to not let her sing, etc.  Of course, we all found it hilarious, but my dad was truly irritated with my mom, who then became really irritated with him, which made us think it was all even more hilarious.

Never again did we attend Midnight Mass as a family.  Apparently because my mother just couldn't find a way to not "let" Nancy sing poorly ... 

To this day, the first strains of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" make me laugh.


Araignee said...

Oh, my gosh what a tale! The closest we ever came to singing as a family was my Mom's Mitch Miller record. Must Be Santa was a family favorite. In our grownup years my mom used to make us each take a verse of the 12 Days of Christmas after her big lasagna dinner on Christmas Eve and we'd all laugh and laugh and get it wrong. To this day I can't hear it without getting a lump in my throat.

Kym said...

What a GREAT story, Bridget. Such a wonderful Christmas memory. (My own sister can't carry a tune, either. She was actually asked to NOT sing in our youth choir. The director told her she could mouth the words if she was so inclined, but requested that she not allow one note to escape. It was a terrible thing to say to a 12-year-old, and she has never sang out loud - except maybe on her own in her car - since.)

Nance said...

What a great story! I'm sure everyone was tired and a little crabby, and that's what precipitated such a discussion. LOL.

By the way, did you know that O Little Town of Bethlehem and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear are totally interchangeable? They are! Try singing the words of one to the tune of the other. It works!

Ellen D. said...

That is a fun Christmas memory. My family loved to sing in church - in fact, my parents met while singing together in their church choir!

Dee said...


Nothing is going to stop Nancy from singing .............and nor should it.

Kim in Oregon said...

That's a great story!

KSD said...