Relax a minute or two, if you can

December 16, 2011


One of the joys of living in a small town, a borough really, is the ability to hear the carrillon in the churchyard playing hymns and carols from virtually anywhere in town.  And because we are walking or simply sitting we are not plagued by the doppler effect that makes bell music go flat if you happen to be driving past them.  Listening to the bells, even for someone who did not grow u] listening to bells, somehow transports me back in time.  There is something ancient about the ringing of church bells.  And even if the pastor is evil and the congregation is apathetic (And I absolutely am not saying they are!) church bells seem to play Holy music.  Music that connects my soul to GodI really like church bells.  MAybe that’s why this post still resonates with me.

Silver Bells, written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans in 1951 was a popular song in the fifties (nineteen fifties).  It was another hit of Bing Crosby, and I remember hearing it on the radio as a child.  But the memory that it most vividly recalls is our family “light drive.”   These days out light tours are one on foot, and stopping doesn’t hold up traffic at all.  I still enjoy driving (or walking) around looking at lights.  As a kid, our whole family would pile into the car (usually five or six kids, no car seats back then) and we would drive around and see the Christmas lights.  We would have to put on our PJ’s before we left, under our clothes, because it was way past bedtime, so when we got home it was right to bed for all of us.

Back then most houses were not decorated much beyond a tree in the window and a Santa head on the door.  Dad knew where the “rich people” lived, so we would drive by those houses, because they actually put Christmas lights outside! It was so cool!  I remember one house that always put blue lights on all their blue spruce trees (I thought they were pine trees).  But if dad was in a good mood, we would go to downtown Muskegon Heights (about three blocks long), and if he was in a really good mood, we would go to downtown Muskegon, blocks and blocks of decorated city.

Both of these metropolises hung lighted decorations from the light and power poles.  There were snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, and, and….silver bells! It was sooooo coool!  When we saw those bells we would sing that song, even though most of us couldn’t get farther than “…it’s Christmas time in the city…”  But mom knew the whole song….

Those short trips in the car were magical; everyone got along, dad didn’t yell at anyone, and we would take turns shouting, “look over there!!”   Then we would go home and we would all get right to bed.

So why did I pick this song for this post?  Because it was a peace-filled memory from my childhood.   I remember it as a time, even with seven or eight people in the car, as a time when my family was at peace.  Silver Bells is the first song that comes to mind when thinking about those drives, and it makes me smile.  It seems to my aging memory that we just didn’t do a lot of things as a family that could be described as peaceful.  (And I know that my memories are adjusted, my mom and dad may only remember the horrible weather, the treacherous roads, the bad drivers, and the noisy kids, but this is my post, mom will have to do her own.)    I have a calm peaceful feeling when thinking about those expeditions,  and that in itself is a rarity.

The song was inspired by the imagery of Salvation Army bellringers standing outside department stores during the Christmas season, and not the bells hanging on the light poles, and that too sparks images of peace in my mind.

So relax, grab a cup of cocoa and a couple of cookies, put on the quiet Christmas CD and remember the peaceful Christmases from your past.  Even if it is only a year or two, even if it is only a thirty minute drive or two, harken back to the peace of the past, and let the memories bring you a bit of peace this year.

Silver bells,[silver bells] It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling [ring-a-ling], Hear them ring [ting-a-ling] Soon it will be Christmas day. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas [Children laughing, People passing, Meeting smile after smile] And on every street corner you’ll hear

Silver bells, [Silver bells] Silver bells, [silver bells] It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling [ring-a-ling], Hear them ring [hear them ring] Soon it will be Christmas day.

Strings of streetlights Even stop lights Blink a bright red and green As the shoppers rush Home with their treasures

Hear the snow crunch See the kids rush This is Santa’s big day And above all this bustle you’ll hear

Silver bells] the corner Santa Claus, [Silver bells], its busy now because It’s Christmas time in the city Ring-a-ling, [it fills the winter air] Hear them ring (you’ll hear it everywhere] Soon it will be Christmas day.

City sidewalks, [silver bells] busy sidewalks, [Silver bells] Dressed in holiday style In the air [Its Christmas time in the city] there’s a feeling of Christmas Children laughing, [ring-a-ling] People passing, [Hear them ring] Meeting smile after smile Very soon it will be Christmas day.


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