I have a distant memory of singing Jingle Bells when I was three years old. It's memorable because of how much I enjoyed singing and how much those listening became slowly irritated. You see it wasn't December, it was July, a hot July day, and my parents and I were riding in a yellow cab in New York City.
My childhood images of NYC in the 1960's are gray: gray sidewalks and gray buildings. As a little child I guess I didn't look up too much to look at the people -- I was too busy hurrying to keep up with my mom and dad as their long legs walked along the city blocks. It was a treat to catch a ride in a cab.
The bright yellow cabs were big inside. A long, deep seat (no seatbelts, then) to slide into. And there were two jump seats; these were round seats that flipped down from the back of the front seat. I loved to sit there because I could wiggle and twirl around on them.
That day I wiggled and twirled and began singing my favorite song. Perhaps I imagined myself to be like one the singers on my parents' favorite show, the Ed Sullivan Show or maybe even Sing Along with Mitch. I don't know how many times I sang through Jingle Bells, but I do remember my father becoming increasingly annoyed -- he must not have been aware of my toddler's aspirations of becoming Rosemary Clooney. And, I believe that even the cab driver asked my dad to get me to stop singing. Jingle Bells made me think of snow which made me feel cooler -- but everyone else was getting hot under the collar. They didn't see images of snow covered streets like I did. So I was told to wait until Christmas to sing that song again.
Waiting for Christmas. Such a long way from a hot summer day.
Counting down to Christmas even seemed long from the start of Advent. At least by then my mother would start reading Christmas stories -- and sing Christmas songs with me.
As a mother, I've sung Christmas songs and read Christmas stories to my children. I've counted down the 24 days of December with them with various types of candy-filled calendars. Each child (and me, too) would get a piece of chocolate after dinner. Then we'd read a story.
This year is a little different. My children are now 26, 24 and 21, with two girlfriends added in, not to mention a little grandson. So there were six Advent calendars to hand out over Thanksgiving weekend. I hope to that they are keeping the Christmas story in their hearts.
Since there is no one of quite the right age for me to share these stories with this year, I am turning to you, the friends and family of Gorham Congregational Church. As you have time you may folllow along with a blog version of the Advent countdown. You can count my story as the first installment, Advent 1, a day late.
Now, here's for Advent 2:
The first chapter of Luke begins:
Dedication to Theophilus
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
(the image above is the central tryptich from the Ghent Altarpiece depicting the Anunciation of Mary. You learn more about it here on Wikipedia.)
We turn to these verses from Luke 1:26-27
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
You can read the rest of Luke 1 on Bible Gateway.
I'm so glad that you've joined me here today. I'll be back tomorrow.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.....