Christmas carols and Christmas memories
February 24, 2008 update:
This article was originally published in Pinoyatbp.
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey!
The kindergarteners and students from grades one to four in my son’ school sang their hearts out in front of their families at the Christmas concert last week.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, we didn’t have Christmas concerts at school. But we sang Christmas songs in Music class. Also, around this time of year, there would be carolers, usually small children, singing from house to house, sometimes accompanied by their makeshift instruments of softdrink bottle caps that were strung together.
I also had my share of singing carols from house to house.
I was in third year high school. I was the new kid in school trying to fit in. I joined the YMC (Youth Marian Crusade) and we would have prayer meetings every Friday after school. I wasn’t really a very religious person, but joining the club gave me a reason to get out of my auntie’s house where I felt suffocated. My mother was then working abroad and I had to live with relatives. I loved both my aunt and my uncle dearly but they were just too strict. I don’t really blame them because they had three daughters of their own, and then they also had to look after me and my sister. But as a teenager, I had the tendency to rebel when they won’t allow me to date or when they wanted to know my every move.
And so every Friday night, I took refuge with my friends at the YMC.
Miss Leticia Borromeo was the coordinator of the YMC in our school. She was also my Chemistry teacher and she had the reputation of being a terror teacher. But she was a very different person outside the classroom. She was a warm and caring person and the YMCians lovingly called her Tita Letty.
Our meetings were held at a community center near the school. Before we started the prayers, she encouraged students to share their problems. Sometimes, she’d ask us what our fears were and then we would talk about them. She told us that she was doing these prayer meetings to keep us “out of the streets.” I thought that was really a noble thing to do.
In December of that year, we started practicing Christmas carols and towards the middle of the month, letters were sent to sponsors so that we could sing carols for them and in turn, we received money, which we donated to a local orphanage.
It was a Friday night when we YMCians, not all of us, but a group of around 20, walked together and went to our first house of the night, a big one and we could tell that it belonged to a well-to-do family. We placed ourselves in front of the house. The guitar player started strumming the strings and we began singing. We sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night.
I liked the part when Lani Libria, a senior, sang a solo of
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
She sang so beautifully and I was sure it was not the chilly air but the timbre of her voice that made the hairs on my arms stand up when she sang
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine! Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night, divine! Oh night! Oh night divine!
And then we sang some more. We sang cheerily to
Frosty the snowman
Was a jolly happy soul
With a corncob pipe and a button nose
And two eyes made out of coal.
Conception Mabini and I looked and smiled at each other as we sang
Sleigh bells ring are you listening
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland.
We sang these two songs so merrily that you’d think we’ve really experienced walking on the glistening snow and making a snowman.
The children in my son’s school sang
Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Now, these kids knew what they were singing about.