O Holy Night: A Christmas Choir Concert Disaster!

The narrator of this fictional story faces her fear!

Photo Credit: Flickr CC Elizabeth Murphy

By Sarah Synk

I remember I received a microphone when I was younger, and it was given to me by my father. It was a portable microphone, a karaoke microphone, that I could carry around with me. My father said that I have a gifted voice, something that I should treasure.

During our family Christmas parties, my family would make me sing, and that means I had to bring the stupid portable microphone with me. I was petrified about singing—our family tradition of ours was that I had to sing “O Holy Night” and “Little Drummer Boy” at the family parties.

My mother and father were so proud of me that they made me sing “O Holy Night” at church because my father told our priest about it, and he agreed. A solo, to be exact. I didn’t want to. I was beyond scared. It was like the devil took over me, and squeezed me to death. Once I got on that stage at church, that very huge stage at church, I vomited in front of everyone. I ran off the stage from fright. My mother had to run over to me to calm me down. After that, I knew my singing career was over. But it was not.

I decided to join a choir in high school. No choir member knew about  the incident at my church until a singer named Isabelle approached me, and showed me the video of the horrific night. Isabelle retrieved (AKA stole) the video from her mother. In the video, Isabelle was just the little girl sitting in an uncomfortable pew, who would perform after me.

“Lookie here,” she announced to the choir, “I got a video of her performing ‘O Holy Night.’ I gotta show it to you.” Singers gathered around in  a circle, hovering over me and Isabelle. I then heard my squeaky voice. It was funny to see I hadn’t reached puberty yet. My squeaky voice began to sing, “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of

I then saw myself vomit. Most of the choir members laughed. Some others didn’t.

“Speaking of Christmas…” Isabelle said, smiling an ominous smile, “We have to prepare our Christmas concert pieces. We need to make our choir sound flawless. Am I right my lovely people?”

The choir teacher then opened the door to the bright shining auditorium. She appeared from behind the blue curtains, almost slipping on the tan floor. Mrs. Wig is a kind, sweet woman with long red hair, lengthy decorated nails, and hazel-colored eyes.“Folks I’ve finally decided on who will sing the solos!” she said with glee.“First up is our lovely girl here, Maeve!” I gulped. I knew I was in for trouble. I felt my stomach clench. And I looked at Isabelle who looked like she won an awful bloodshed war. A face of pure revenge-victory.

“What solo did I get?” I asked with my eyes  practically bulging out of my head. I was brave enough to audition this time for the solos which were “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and the stupid “O Holy Night” song.

“You’re gonna sing “O Holy Night.” I think you’ll sound lovely. You-”
Of course, I should of known it would be this piece. Our school is a Catholic school, so this is kind of like the same tradition flash forward into my deep, depressing high  school years.

And of course, Isabelle got a solo as well. We are the quote, unquote “top notches” in the whole choir. Isabelle received the solo in “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

I then ran out of the auditorium. I bumped into an orchestra member named Sasha who is also my best friend. She was going to be playing the violin with me while I sang, which hopefully shouldn’t be too bad.

“Hey…” Sasha said with her violin case in her hand.“I heard you got the solo. Mrs. Wig told us—I’ll be playing the violin with you. I couldn’t stop humming the tune all day. It’s gonna be one hell of a night.”

That’s right. I definitely knew I was in the room for trouble because Sasha is my best friend, no wait, best friend for life, and I didn’t want her to lose her reputation over me.

“I’m in deep trouble.” I told Sasha with a short frown, almost about to burst into tears.  

“Isabelle is bullying me. She was at my church when I sung that vicious ‘O Holy Night.’ I vomited and her mother recorded it on the video. Thus here I am many years later singing the haunting song yet again!” Sasha knew Isabelle more than anything. Besides Isabelle being a choir bully, she was also a bully because she constantly compared her grades with Sasha, thinking she’s Miss Smarty Pants!

Mrs. Wig caught our attention. I turned around. “Listen Maeve, I heard about the incident. I know you’re nervous, but you can do this. Music is all close to our hearts.”

So I sprinted into the auditorium, the one with bright shining lights and blue curtains. The orchestra now was fully set up. They were performing with us for rehearsal that day. My time to sing the solo got nearer and nearer. Then Sasha’s violin began to play. I cleared my throat. “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear savior’s birth…” Somehow, I made it through the song.

“Maeve!” Mrs. Wig shouted. “You sounded amazing,” she said in her Southern accent.  

After we finished singing the song, we wrapped up. Isabelle was babbling on about relationship issues. I rolled my eyes, trying to focus elsewhere. As we wrapped up, Sasha said to everyone else as they giggled, “Such girl drama. You know what I mean?”

Before we left the auditorium to go to our next class, Mrs. Wig began talking to me and the rest of the choir group. Before she spoke, she took a sip of coffee.

“So…” Mrs. Wig began “We are going to perform this at the church next week. Maeve, you’ll do fine.” I hoped her words remained true, a source of good luck. Probably not.

Concert time struck like a bolt of lighting, on a Saturday night to be exact. The choir students got up on stage (a balcony wedged high above the church) with Mother Mary behind us, reaching out to our “spirit.”  The orchestra played on the floor, with Jesus who stood next to them. It was a very weird set up, but we wanted it to sound like an eerie Christmas concert. The audience started finding their seats, and stupid obnoxious kids were hollering at  the top of their lungs. How would I be able to sing through all of this? There is no way I could! Mrs. Wig headed up on the center of the stage, near the orchestra, and began to talk to the audience. Of course, I was the first to sing for my solo.

“Hello everyone. Our first song is “O Holy Night.” We have a beautiful soloist who will be performing along with a violin player! Maeve, please head down the stairs and Sasha, please step forward.” Mrs. Wig announced.

That was my cue to head down the stairs of the church. And what happened as I walked down the stairs? I stumbled, from my stupid fear, with my high heels almost making me twist my ankles, and my red wavy dress, our choir dress code, getting caught onto the railing stairs. I managed to get in the center of the orchestra with Sasha next to me, squeezing my hand tightly, then letting go. The audience clapped as though they didn’t recognize me falling.

“You got this,” she whispered, “You really got this.”

She began playing the violin softly, and my nerves eased. I began to pretend that the stage was empty, like nothing in the world even mattered. I pretended that I was singing in front of my family, a group I’m comfortable performing in front of for the most part, and not a huge crowd. As I thought of them, I also thought of Mrs. Wig’s, my Dad’s, and Sasha’s comments when I’m done with a the solo, because I know they will say I did a great job. And I thought of all the bullies in the world who underestimated me (F.Y.I. Isabelle), and how I was going to prove them wrong.

Everyone clapped. It was over by the Grace of God. When our choir was finished, everyone congratulated me for my “brave” performance. When every musician was finished putting things away, we had a little reception in a squishy room in the basement of the church.

The priest, Father Patrick, greeted every choir member and took a group photo with us. The families were allowed to visit us too,  which used to be forbidden because of the amount of people, but Father Patrick decided that, since it’s the Christmas season, who cared about how much space the church has to offer? He also wanted to have an outdoors mini candlelight vigil for Christmas with the choir after the performance. We were going to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” to go along with lit up candles in the little amount of snow we had.

Before we proceeded outside my dad shouted, “Maeve…You sounded great, my little Choir Gal! This wasn’t an ‘O Holy Night: A Christmas Choir Concert Disaster’ like you said it would be. You overcame your fear, and you had the perseverance to do so!”

When I was finished talking to my dad, my bestie came running over towards me. Her jaw dropped 100 miles per hour, “Maeve you did it! You performed- I’m so proud of my best friend. My B.F.F.L. I’m so glad I got to know you. Hashtag… my bestie is a superstar! That’s right everyone!” I prevented her from saying anything further.

“Ehhh, but it’s the truth,” she rebuked.

We headed outside, and we did as commanded. We got to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” in the freezing snow. Luckily I was wearing a heavy red dress to protect me from the cold.

Sasha, of course, serenaded the whole choir one “last” time. I held my candle as my arms shook. I am afraid of candles. When Sasha was done playing her part, she couldn’t be happier. “Ugh I’m glad we’re done,” she whispered. “Say, my family and I are having a Christmas party. It’s only my family members, but you’re considered family.  Would you and your family like to join us?” She looked at my Dad, and he nodded his head.

“But I feel bad,” I say.  “I don’t have anything nice to bring to the party.”
She shrugs, “It’s okay. It is kind of a last minute thing. Besides, my family wants to hear you sing!” God, of course Sasha has to open her mouth to her family. That didn’t surprise me. And it didn’t surprise me that Sasha’s family invited me at the last minute.

When I was done collecting my stuff, Dad drove me to Sasha’s house. Sasha’s house is a white house, Victorian style, and there was a huge Christmas wreath on her black door. When Mrs. Amore, Sasha’s mom, opened the door she was happy to see me.

“Maeve my darling! How are you doing? I’m so sorry I could not go. I was prepping for this party.” As I filed into her home, making sure I didn’t wreck anything, I saw a huge red Christmas tree. Next to the Christmas tree I saw a red and green sign that said “O Holy Night” with music notes. I sighed.

“What is it?” Sasha asked me. I pointed my fingers at the sign. She sighed too,

“Oh Maeve. It’s just a song. You know you sang the song tonight like there was no problem!”

I was then greeted by Sasha’s grandfather. He is a cute little old man: an Italian accent, a bald head, and no teeth. He said in a raspy voice, “Maeve! So good to see you and your father again!” I looked at my father who was talking to Ms. Amore.

“It’s good to see you too, Mr. Amore!” I gulped. I feel so bad for Sasha. This last name haunts me because her father died last Christmas and her mother changed her name back to Amore.

“You know you can call me Grandpa Amore. I hate that….Mr. Amore. It sounds too formal!” Sasha and I laugh, “Anyways…I want you to sing it for us! Maeve, oh, please do!

Sasha can help you out!” He announced that we would perform the song. This nightmare wasn’t ever going to end. I began to sing O Holy Night,” hopefully for the last time.

“O holy night the stars are brightly shining!” Everyone teared up as they clapped. Ms. Amore ran up to us. She was ranting on and on about how grateful we are to be friends because of our musical talent.

“Well,  before anyone asks us to perform again, let’s go eat food. They won’t bother us.”

I laughed, that was true. They especially love us eating food because Sasha’s family cooks everything by scratch and we are the “judges.”

“I really hope this will be the last time, Sasha,” I grumbled. “I really hate Christmas. I am totally all Bah Humbug right now.”

She laughed, “Eh. I hate it just as much as you do!”

She held up a glass of eggnog, “Can we all say cheers?” She pretended the eggnog was wine. I laughed just as much as she did.

“Cheers,” I responded. And that was that. My voice could no longer function. It began to get all raspy at the end. Mrs. Amore made some green tea, my favorite, to help soothe my voice and gave me a cough drop.

“You definitely need a break, Maeve. You too, Sasha. My beautiful musicians. I’m so proud of you two, ” Mrs. Amore said, nodding gently towards Sasha, then leaving. Afterwards, I said to Sasha:

“Well, I’m proud of myself!” It was true. I was proud of myself. I got over my fears tonight, and that was all that mattered. And the best part of it all? I was getting positive compliments. I worried about all that for nothing! Thanks to my Dad, Mrs. Wig, Sasha, the choir, and the orchestra, I made it through  that night. They were the souls to my heart which will never break…EVER!

 

Sarah Synk can be contacted at ssynk@worcester.edu

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