Saturday, December 25, 2010
CHRISTMAS EVENING, NEWTON MASSACHUSETTS, 1949
Every Christmas, Uncle Paul (my father's older brother) would call us together (all six of us children ranging in age from 3 to 9 by 1949 -- my three cousins and my sister and brother and me). We were going to sing Christmas carols for my grandfather's brothers (Uncle Arakel who lived on the second floor of a commercial building in West Newton Square and Uncle Vartan who lived on the second floor of a commercial building in Newtonville Square opposite the train station), and my grandmother's sister, (Mayry Baju, who lived on the second floor of a two family house between Newtonville and West Newton, along Cheesecake Brook.) Although we didn't see Uncle Arakel as often, we saw Mary Baju every Sunday when we picked her up to go to church with us in order to hear Uncle Vartan preach at the Armenian Brethren Church on Arlington Street in Watertown. We were torn between wanting to stay home to play with our new toys and the excitement of going visiting with Uncle Paul. Our mothers would bundle us into our warmest snowsuits and boots (as it was invariably snowing and already dark), and Uncle Paul would shepherd all six of us into his old Chevrolet. (This, of course, was possible only because it was way before the law requiring seat belts and car seats for kids). What can I tell you about those visits? After climbing the creaking old wooden stairs to the second floors and hugging our uncles and aunts, we would sing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night, Away in a Manger and We Three Kings, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World. Somehow I always felt that the visits and the caroling were more for Uncle Paul than for our great uncles and great aunt who nevertheless graciously accepted our gift of song as well as the honor shown them by our visit. It was not until I was older that I understood that the visits were more for us, the children, than for our elders.