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I always wonder what I will write to you about in my next newsletter. Well the other day a friend sent me a YouTube clip.
I am including it for you in this letter. And, that is what I will write about this time. It truly is one of the most joyful things I have seen or heard in a long time. We need all the joy we can get and that is why I want to share it with you.
This video reminds me of the choir at George Street United Church in Peterborough, where I grew up. We had a soloist, Mrs. Goldie, and she really had an amazingly wonderful voice. Every year we looked forward to her singing the Halleluiah chorus at Christmas. I loved our candlelight service at Christmas, and our Christmas concerts, and I loved singing in the Junior Choir even though I honestly have a terrible voice, but I loved singing, especially at Christmas.
I have been to various churches along the way of our many relocations but never have I found one that gave me the feeling of joy that I got from George Street. I am not sure what that is about, but I know I miss it. And that is what this video reminded me of. I know it will touch you all in some way as well. I worry that we haven’t given that (whatever That is) to our children in the way it was given to us.
Music is a powerful thing. We lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 1982 to 1984. David was a part of the Bell Canada Management contract in Saudi. This was an exceptionally difficult time for me. Kathy and Mary were at home in Canada at University, John came with us for a year and returned to Canada to go to school in Lakefield for our second year. He was 12, and it was dreadfully hard to leave him there and then for me to return to Saudi. Hard for him and hard for us. I was very sad in Saudi, I had a job teaching at the American School and I loved that but the life in Saudi for women was not something I could or would ever come to accept.
I joined a choir on our compound. Remember, I can’t sing! But it was so much fun and as long as I was singing I was okay. We had choir practice a few nights a week. At Christmas it was a life saver. We were not allowed to celebrate Christmas in the Kingdom at all. We could not have decorations or any outward sign of the holiday, if found with such they were destroyed. But it was a funny thing, our two Christmas’s away were two of the most memorable for me.
One we spent in London in a flat in Knightsbridge, the kids came from Canada and we were all together and that in itself was the greatest gift. The second Christmas we stayed on the compound in Riyadh. December 25th was a work day for the Saudis, but David stayed home. Several times that day the phone rang as one Saudi after the other called to wish him “Merry Christmas”. We celebrated with other Canadian families who stayed in the Kingdom. We had church services. The Roman Catholics were considerably more organized and had a priest who came to the compound. I always wondered how that was allowed as there was and is only one religion there. I sang in the choir for the Catholic services and it didn’t matter at all if you were Protestant or Catholic. We sang our hearts out and again I would feel healed as I sang. When we went to the Souks (shops) in downtown Riyadh throughout December we would softly sing “Silent Night” or “Away in the Manger”, the Saudis would smile kindly at us not knowing of course what we were singing-but it felt good just to be singing.
And so my Friends, when I saw this video clip those were the memories and thoughts I had. I know you all have your own memories and this year you will make more memories. Not always is it an easy time of year. Too often and for too many it is a very hard time. I do hope wherever you are, you are able to enjoy the music of Christmas, The Messiah , The Nutcracker Suite, the wonderful choirs and musical specials on the PBS. Wouldn’t it just be so much fun to have a group of singers (some would have to be good!) and suddenly burst in to song in the middle of a shopping centre?

I would love to do that. Give me a call if you are planning to do that. I promise to sing very quietly. Merry Christmas to you and to your families.
Mary Lindsay

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