On December 23 of that year, my mom let me come with her to the festival. Actually, I think I came by default – no babysitter is my guess. Regardless, I distinctly remember the different craft booths, the smells of hot chocolate and roasting chestnuts, and the beautiful costumes everyone seemed to wear. My mom and I walked around for a bit before she left me at a child-care center located within the fair.
Later that night, a quartet from the Robert Shaw Chorale was singing at the festival. They walked throughout the fair dressed in historical garb; minstrels singing the most beautiful songs.
One of their first stops was the child-care center. I remember hearing them sing and knowing that a group of angels couldn’t possible sound any better. One particular singer – the soprano – stood out from the group. Her voice was more beautiful than anything I had ever heard in my young life.
The minstrels finished their songs and moved on to the next booth. I couldn’t bear to have them leave, so I walked out of the center and followed them. Kate, the soprano, talked with me, held my hand and made sure I didn’t get lost. I really don’t remember them singing, but I do remember Kate trying to help me find my mother’s booth.
After some time past – in my 5-year old mind it seemed like it was the whole night – we made our way back to the child-center, unable to find my mother’s booth. Mom was waiting for me. And after she finished chastising me for leaving, she thanked Kate.
Before Kate left, I pulled off the bracelet I was wearing – a special charm bracelet given to me by my grandmother. The stone of the charms spelled out the word “dear”. Kate tried to refuse the present, but I told her that Christmas was about giving and since she had given me the gift of her voice, I simply had to give her the bracelet. Reluctantly, she took my gift and left.
The next day was Christmas Eve. I remember listening to a recording of the Robert Shaw Chorale over and over again. I just knew I could hear Kate’s voice in the chorus, sounding every bit as angelic as she did at the festival. The next morning, Christmas morning, I raced out of bed to see if Santa had come. Mom joined me and I opened my stocking. Tucked at the bottom of the stocking was a little package completely different from the rest. Carefully, I unwrapped the little gift until it lay in my hand – a mosaic pin with a little note.
I couldn’t believe it. How did she manage to get a present into my stocking? Surely she was an angel. There was no other explanation in my young mind.
To this day, I listen carefully anytime Joy to the World by the Robert Shaw Chorale comes on Pandora, straining to see if I can hear the voice of my angelic Kate.
What special memories do you have about this season?