Thursday, December 14, 2006


"Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la lala la la...."

Christmas was always a special time for my parents. Dad was the pastor of a Baptist Church and each Christmas he and Mom would decorate the church sanctuary lavishly with pine and cedar boughs, flowers, and candles. They would work together on these decorations and it was always a masterpiece which we all looked forward to.

On Christmas Sunday there would be a candle-light service and a processional with the choir, the a pageant about the Christmas story. Mom usually made the costumes.

The first Christmas we moved to the Pacific Coast, Dad and Mom decided to go to the forest to get the decorations for Christmas. The city where I live is on the edge of the mountain wilderness, with forests all around. And within the city limits are several large parkland areas with forests. So Dad and Mom set out by car one afternoon to cut the pine and cedar boughs.

Being unfamiliar with the city, Dad didn't realize until an RCMP car pulled him over, that he was in the University Endowment Lands, private property. His car was full of the branches off trees which people are forbidden to cut. Imagine his embarassment when he was given a citation and fined $50 for cutting boughs off the trees.

That same Christmas, Dad organized the children's Christmas Concert. This was the year that Mom made the Santa Claus suit out of the Nazi flag. One of the highlights of the concert was Dad, dressed in baggy old paint-stained overalls, a paint cap, carrying a big pail and brush, performing his rendition of "When Father Papered the Parlour".

It was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen -- my usually staid Welsh father do.
"When Father papered the parlour
You couldn't see Pa for paste.
He was dabbing it here, dabbing it there
There was paste and paper everywhere.
Ma was stuck to the ceiling,
The kids were stuck to the floor.
You've never seen such a stuck up family
anywhere before!"

The audience howled with laughter. The Deacons weren't so impressed. They tried to prohibit Dad from doing his performance. They didn't think it was dignified or proper for the Pastor to perform such a silly song.All the Young People got together and protested. Pastor Fred was vindicated.And the show went on as scheduled, as it did every year for many years later.

I was at a Christmas luncheon recently with the old church friends. I reminded them about the day Pastor Fred got busted by the RCMP, and how the deacons tried to stop the Christmas Concert performance of "When Father Papered the Parlour". It turned out my friend's husband actually has a tape of Dad singing his famous song.

"At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year."
Thomas Tusser 1524-1580
"A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry (1557) The Farmer's Daily Diet."

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