“Carols across the Country,” Ensign, Dec. 2008, 61
Music and singing have always been very important to my family. While I was growing up, my sister would play the piano while my five other siblings and I gathered around and sang our favorite Church songs. These times are among my fondest memories.
After graduating from high school, I lived near my family until I married a wonderful man who was stationed in our town with the U.S. Air Force. A year and a half later, my husband and I, along with our two-month-old daughter, were transferred to a base across the country. We had another child, and with all the expenses that come with two babies, we had not been able to return to visit our families. With six children still at home, my parents couldn’t afford to visit us either. Living so far away from my family and missing my husband due to his frequent military assignments, I was often subject to feelings of loneliness. Holidays were especially difficult.
On Christmas Eve in 1996, while my husband and I were taking part in our traditional Christmas Eve activities with our two young children, my thoughts kept turning to my parents and siblings. I gazed at the clock and knew they would all be sitting down on a blanket laid carefully out on the floor and eating a “Christmas feast picnic” of fruit, little sausages, cheese, and crackers while my father read the account of Christ’s birth from the scriptures. In my mind I pictured their faces. Mine would be the only one missing.
As I pondered, I prayed for a way to feel more connected with the rest of my family. Suddenly, the phone rang, and I found myself speaking to my mother. She told me she had something for us to hear. I turned on the speaker phone, and we listened as my three younger sisters gathered around the family piano and sang the most beautiful version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Tears filled our eyes as my husband and I listened to the three-part harmony coming from our phone. We could almost feel my family in the room with us.
Their simple song brought into our home that Christmas Eve a sweet spirit I will always treasure. Of all the gifts we received that Christmas, many purchased from stores and carefully wrapped and labeled, it was that sweet song that was most precious to us.