The one School Christmas program I’ll never forget occurred in 1961, when I was in the second grade and my sister, Rita, was in first. We attended Saint Bernard parochial school in Dayton, Kentucky along with our two older sisters and two older brothers. I remember walking to school with my siblings on that cold Friday evening in early December to participate in the annual Christmas program. We all had to be there early to prepare so we walked to school ahead of our parents who were going to drive down later.
The program was great. I remember singing ‘We Three Kings’ on stage and looking out at a sea of invisible faces in the cafeteria turned auditorium in the basement of the church wondering if my mommy and daddy were out there watching me.
After the show all the kids filed back to their classrooms walking across the now snow-covered blacktop between the church and school. It was dark out and there were big fluffy wet snowflakes hitting our happy faces and wetting our feet and heads. Back in the classroom we took off our robes or ‘house coats’ and ‘towels’ and then we were dismissed. Since I did not know where my parents or my other family members were I went to Rita’s classroom and together we walked out of the building into the cold white night. Neither of us was dressed properly for the occasion. With no rubber boots over our shoes our feet were cold and wet in seconds. I acted brave as we walked up and down the street looking at the snow-covered cars trying to find our family’s chocolate-brown 1953 De Soto, but it was impossible to see the colors or styles beneath the piling-on snow.
So I announced that we would walk home, since Mommy and Daddy did not come tonight. I knew the way and acted a lot braver than I felt. The trudge through the white cold powder was awful. I remember how we both were crying and shivering by the time we made it to our front porch after walking the five long blocks. Unbeknownst to us, the whole family was out looking for their two little girls lost in the snow.
My oldest sister was home with the baby, watching, and waiting, in case we made it home by ourselves. She said Mom and Dad had drove back to school to find us and that Joe, our brother, was walking along Fourth Street trying to spot us.
All’s well that ends well. I don’t remember the reunion with Mom and Dad that long ago snowy night, but I’m sure it was joyful for them. And now every time I attend a children’s Christmas program, I remember the time I sang ‘We Three Kings’ and walked home in the dark in a snow storm with my little sister.