Christmas time is a nostalgic time of year for lots of people. It seems to have come especially early this year with the cold weather and snowfall coming earlier in the year than usual.
The other day I was driving down the road listening to "O, Holy Night" and was caught up with images and visions of my childhood. As I'm sure many people do, I have some memories from childhood that come with so much clarity and vividness that when I think of them, for a moment I feel as though I were transported back to that moment and like a child again as I replay the memory in my mind. These memories are more than just vivid recollections of events or places, but carry a flood of emotions with them.
One of those memories for me is laying in bed, listening to my brother Percy playing the piano from the living room, as my dad accompanied him singing. Even though I couldn't see them as I fell asleep, I knew that what probably happened, as it usually did, was that Percy would begin to play the piano, my father would come up behind him and begin singing along to that particular piece. One song turned into two, then three, then many more. My dad would often request songs, and one of those was often, "O Holy Night." It was always my favorite.
Both my dad and Percy have beautiful tenor voices and they would often sing together as Percy played. Falling asleep to these sounds was one of the sweetest memories of my childhood. The music for me was more than a harmony of sounds, but symbolized security, the love of my father, and the deep faith that I knew he had. No matter how hard things were or what was going on in my life at the time, that music coming from the living room told me that for that moment, all was right.
When I hear the carol come on the radio, as it often does (for which I am very grateful), I can almost hear the muffled music coming from the living room, as I did those many nights, and once again, all is right in the world.
I've been surprised at how much I've thought of and drawn from this memory to serve as an anchor as I've dealt with some recent life changes.
After Percy moved out of the house and went to college, my dad would sing with other siblings as they played the piano. Of the eight children in my family, I am the only one that never learned to play the piano. The fact that I can't play the piano as my father sings behind me is one of my biggest regrets for not having learned to play.
I have also drawn strength many times from my father's deep conviction and testimony in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Another vivid memory I have is of our family sitting in sacrament meeting in a foreign country, listening to my dad give a talk. In the talk, he spoke of his love of the Savior and bore a strong witness of him. He then told the congregation that he wanted to read the words of his favorite hymn that was in the English hymn book but that had not yet been translated into Spanish. Through his tears, he read his own translated version of "I Believe In Christ" in Spanish to the congregation. I will always remember that moment and the feelings I had as I heard it being read. A few years later, that song was added to the Spanish hymn book.
What a blessing to have these sweet memories.