Tears from my eyes came down without me realizing it, but I made sure Johnny and Ralph on either side of me didn’t notice.
TheChristmas program at the Norwegian Lutheran Church in Amery most often happeneda week or more before Christmas, on a Sunday afternoon. Even at 5:00 it wasdark, and the candles and subtle lighting made for a religious atmosphere.
Full house, every time, chairs in the aisles and many of the men standing in the back in the entryway. Kids sat shoulder to shoulder, taking turns to stand in front and say their pieces—their Bible verse that made up the birth of the Baby Jesus. Slowly the age of the presenters climbed so the high school students spoke and sang last.
The 12 foot short needled pine became the center of attention of the audience with the big colored lights and ornaments, making it the most beautiful tree we’d see that month. Candles lit the front, the somber crowded audience sometimes breaking into laughter when a kid didn’t know his, usually his, memorized line.
The highlight of the evening was the senior choir, mostly high school students, and near the end the featured solo, acapella.
Standing near the pulpit, David Granum began his beautiful, smooth version of “O, Holy Night”. The smart son of a local insurance salesman and English teacher/ mother, his thick black glasses almost yelled brainy. In my sister Leora’s class, he was three years my senior.
In the dim light, he sang this song that since has become one of my favorites, singing with authority and commitment. That’s when my tears flowed, the dark low lit scene etched into my mind. If I could paint, I’d capture that picture that my memory held from over 60 years ago.
Just a little program left, the emotion I felt during the song changing to excitementbecause I knew wonderful food waited for us in the basement. Refreshments,cookies, and wonderful bags of peanutsand candy became payment for that first class performance we just finished.
More than 50years later at his class reunion in Amery, I spoke to David and told him about this Christmas memory. Wouldn’t you know, he didn’t recall singing thatsong. Hhe took it in good spirits when I told him he did a great job.