Come check out our Saddlebrooke Ranch Writing Guild. We meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in the La Vista room from 1:00-3:00 p.m. After discussing a topic on how to improve our writing, we share excerpts from our own memoirs, essays, fiction or family stories.
If you have questions about the club, please contact Jan Larkey at [email protected]
Christmas in July
A friend and I were enjoying an unusually warm July evening in 1958 as we strolled back to our hotel near Hyde Park Corner in London. As we neared the famous orator’s corner, we saw several speakers addressing the crowds gathered around them.
Joining the large meandering throng of people, we stopped by one fired-up orator. He stood on a wooden box, loudly extolling in a deep baritone his opinion on the foibles of the Labour party. We paused to listen to a red-faced man ranting about the onerous burden of his taxes and the cost of petrol. While we listened, a vision of Mary Poppins traipsed by wearing a little black hat topped with a bobbing red-flower. Pointing her finger toward heaven she proclaimed in a vigorous, quavering voice to all nearby, “Jesus Saves! Jesus Saves!”
As we wandered among the crowd, a small group of other young people attempted to engage us in a conversation. Each sentence uttered among the six of us resulted in someone needing to translate what was said to others in the growing international group. Everyone appeared to be able to converse fluently in at least two or three languages. I heard German, French, Italian, plus possibly a Dutch or Scandinavian translation. Without a common language, the verbal chaos in this miniature Tower of Babel meant multiple interpretations were going in several directions at once.
When a cohesive conversation proved impossible, a young woman in the group started singing a song we didn’t know; another joined in while the rest of us listened. Then the lead singer burst out in a tune we all recognized. Spontaneously the entire group started singing along. And this is how I came to stand on Hyde Park Corner in the middle of London, in the middle of July, belting out Jingle Bells with ten other young adults, each of us singing the words in our native languages. We sang and laughed through a melody of Christmas carols, creating a feeling of universal sharing and caring. Our impromptu chorus ended with our arms around each other slowly swaying to the melody of Away in a Manger.
Each holiday season when I hear familiar holiday tunes, I think of this special night when ten strangers shared Christmas in July.