“Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.”
The young people in our rural community started Christmas preparations at school soon after Thanksgiving. It was a four-room schoolhouse for grades 1-7. The rooms were large: two were classrooms; one was an auditorium with a stage and a large door that could be opened to extend the room; and the fourth room could be used for a kitchen or preparation room. In addition, there was a large cloak room. It was so exciting opening up the rooms for special events.
For Christmas, the first thing we did was to draw a name. There would be a gift at the Christmas celebration for every student – the teachers saw to that. A huge tree that touched the ceiling was set on the stage. It was decorated with hand-made chains and stars with rope tinsel circling the tree. It seemed beautiful to us.
After the tree was decorated, we focused on the Christmas play, which was about the true Christmas story, the nativity. There were parts for lots of students, and we practiced for weeks so that we would know the parts. We also practiced singing Silent Night, We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, and some fun songs like Up on the Housetop and Jingle Bells.
The play was held the day that school got out for the holidays. The principal of the school would give out the presents, and everyone hoped to be a helper in delivering the gifts. Since the school was the center of the community, the auditorium was full of parents. It was a joyful and much-anticipated event where the true meaning of Christmas was apparent.