“We all met at the church,” June reminisced. “Mom and Dad took us all caroling.” Well, yes, they took us ALL. I can well remember being a bit taller than knee-high when Mom and Dad pushed me out in front of the teens caroling at the Brethren Home. Back then it was a dark, dreary place that really didn’t smell all that good. I was terrified. Of course, when Mom said, “Sing!” there was no dodging it. In my child voice, I sang “Away in a Manger.” The residents wanted to touch this little girl who was none too receptive. This is one memory that is very vivid from my point of view, which was mostly of knees and coattails.
My sister has different memories which mean the world to me. Being seven years her junior, my memories are limited. I don’t remember Junior Stuff playing the accordion as the teens sang. Nor do I remember Cousin Gene Johnson and some other boys wrestling and breaking the back off of Mom and Dad’s sofa after caroling. However, I do remember going from home to home singing to seniors: Grandma and Grandpa Force, Jess and Rosie Riffell, Rene Beane, Becky Groff and so many others who were the cherished in our community. We were often asked into their homes, tucking in like chicks beneath the brooder.
The youth group was made up of kids whose parents grew up together included Edwin, Miriam, Nancy and Martha Royer, Art, Larry and Gary Fourman, Junior Stuff, Lynda Fourman, Ruth, Kent, Terry and Dan Snider, Lois McBride, Barbara Rhodes, Judy Reck, Carol Stager, Margaret Dohner and so many more teens blessed our lives. The faces I remember over that decade of Christmas carolers, the older church children who filled our home regularly. They caroled then came back to the house for a wiener roast over the fireplace and ate green and red popcorn balls. Dad always went to North Star to get a couple of tins of potato chips. The atmosphere was full of laughter and fun with farm kids who grew up together.
Mom and Dad no longer had the youth group when I was a teen. How I wish we had those same experiences, since we were all siblings of that older group of carolers. Doris Royer, Mary Kay Snider, Vivian Force, Shirley and Janet Riffell, Karen and Kenton Loxley, Eddie Reck, Brenda Stager, Gary Rhoades, Darrell Fourman, Marena Neff and more grew up the same way as those older sisters and brothers. Yes, we missed things like caroling, hayrides and wiener roasts over the old fireplace.
My memories are made of this … and of all the things my sister remembers to share with me. We are the sum of our parts, plus those parts we find on our own. Christmas is over, but what we leave behind goes on forever. So when Santa comes next year, be sure to make sure he leaves memories that will be related for generations to come.