Singing like the angels at Christmas

When Ted Jakubowski, a United States Navy World War II veteran and Dunkirk native, died in California in 1982, among his personal papers was a 1936 Christmas letter from his godchild and niece. The child had just learned to write, and wrote to thank her Uncle Ted for the dollar he had sent her. She now had $1.98, which would help Santa to bring the three gifts she longed for – an Orphan Annie stove and two Dy-Dee dolls. One doll was for her little sister, Gail.

As I read the letter objectively, I thought, “What a nice child; she didn’t ask for much, and she unselfishly remembered her sibling to Santa.”

The child’s parents were faithful church-goers and attended Mass as a family. One Christmas morning as they prayed and listened to the harmonious blend of soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices in the church choir, the child thought, “This is what the angels in heaven must sound like.”

That melodious choir at Christmas Mass had quite an impact on the child. When she was 10 years old and in the sixth grade at St. Hyacinth’s school, her teacher and principal, Sister Juventia, was recruiting children to sing in the church choir. This was very same church that the family had been attending long before the child was born.

The timid youngster hesitated raising her hand. She could never hope to sing like the angels. Sister Juventia’s next words persuaded her to definitely join. “Remember, children,” she promised, “when you sing, you pray twice.” Thanks to Sister, 72 years later, as an adult, that child still has a passion for singing harmony in churches and former community choruses. She is convinced that families who sing together in harmony will live together in harmony.

Many years later, another sibling, Linda, was born. Perfect! Now we soon could sing three-part harmony together. And we did! True to that philosophy, our sisterly relationship was harmonious in song, and in life.

When it was time to live our separate lives, on Sundays and on Christmas, we would sing in our individual churches, apart, but spiritually together, in sweet-sounding angelic harmony.

Our dad, “Frenchy,” had also been a choir member for decades, and was very active in his church community. In our family, Dad was the key that turned on goodness, peace at all costs, goodwill, tranquility, and most of all, harmony in life and in song, especially at Christmas.

Lorraine Bailey