Twas the Night Before Christmas
It was Christmas Eve, and time to visit my family for the holidays. We had plans to drive down in the afternoon, visit my one sister who's in assisted living, spend some time with my parents, enjoy supper with the family, hear the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and attend church service at St. John's, my home church, in Cocolamus, PA.
And so we did all of those things, and it was chaos, of course. Above you may see my parents, age 89, doing their traditional tag-team reading of the holiday favorite Twas the Night Before Christmas. It is one of the great blessings of my life to have them as parents, and to have been able to keep them as long as we have.
Around suppertime, my little sister and her family arrived, and she was carrying a big box in her hands. The box contained my mother's wedding silverware, purchased in March of 1950 just before her marriage to my father in June of that year.
There is a story about this silverware that I must tell you. My three oldest sisters were born in the early 1950s, and my parents built their own home. With a young family to feed, when times got tight, my mom sold her wedding silverware to her mother, my Grammy Carvell, because she needed the money.
When Grammy died in 1991, the silverware was sold as part of her estate. I had not heard the story of the wedding silverware until after the auction of Grammy's things. There was ONE big-ticket item for which the bidding ran high. You can guess what it was: the silverware.
A hundred dollars! Two hundred! Three hundred! Our eyes grew wide as the number crept higher. Six hundred! Seven hundred! A thousand dollars! SOLD! To my big sister Barb, who paid what was then (and is now) a ridiculous amount of money for such a thing, to keep it in the family.
Barb passed away in July of this year, and my little sister rescued the wedding silverware from among her things. And so it was that on Christmas eve 2019, my mother's wedding silverware, sold to her mother in the early 1950s, and bought again by my big sister Barb at auction, finally came home after about 65 years. You may see a photo of my mother holding her wedding silverware in the extras.
And then, after supper, we all (except for my mom, who doesn't leave the house much these days) piled into our cars and went to church service at St. John's. The service ends with a candle lighting, which occurs along with the song Silent Night. We lit our candles and with the church bathed in ethereal beauty, I wished that my big sister Barb could be sitting beside me once again, like she always did on Christmas eve.
But we would not leave her behind. No. After the service, a few of us went out to the churchyard to visit my sister's grave. And I got out Tiny Tiger, who wanted to see and be part of things. And I placed him nearby. And I got out a string of blue lights, for blue was Barb's favorite color, and I lit them.
And in the graveyard, under starry skies, we sang carols for my sister, the blue butterfly girl whose wings beat in Heaven these days, and for all of the family whom we love and miss who are there with her. Just a few songs, but to make sure she knows we will keep her with us in our hearts, forever. And my voice broke as we finished the final song, which was, of course, Silent Night.
So let Silent Night be our soundtrack song, and maybe Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty can finish the words that my voice broke and could not sing in the graveyard on Christmas eve:
Sleep in heavenly peace.