With tears streaming down my face…

It’s my daughter’s fault.

She ignited a memory this morning, a very cherished memory of our children’s elementary years.

As many of you know, we live in a small township with about 460 residents (down twenty folks since the 2000 census.)  Our elementary students attend a two-room public school.  The student count fluctuates over the years.  Back in the 1980’s and 90’s when our kids attended the count averaged about 28.  One year, for a very short time, we topped out at 41 students.  These days we teach between five and fifteen girls and boys.

Our two attended Arvon Township School where their mama (me!) had the fancy title of Business Manager.  That meant I did the books, paid the handful of employees and filled out countless state reports.  (As many of you know, I am still in this part-time position all these years later.)

One of the highlights of the school year for our students is a magnificent Christmas program where moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, friends and neighbors all turn out to listen to little Johnny or Melinda sing, act, read or play recorders.

Students wait on steep Town Hall steps before performance.  Yes, the blond haired one is ours.

Students wait on steep Town Hall steps before performance. Yes, the blond haired one is ours.

In the old days–back in the 80’s and 90’s–a tradition established itself where the finale of the Christmas program consisted of the students singing “Must Be Santa”.

You’ve heard of this song, right?

OK, I’ll sing it for you.

Who’s got a beard that’s long and white?

Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white.

Who comes around on a special night?

Santa comes around on a special night.

Special night, beard that’s white,

Must be Santa, Must be Santa,

Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Because some of you might not hear the tune properly–I’m sure it’s not my singing–I will post a Proper YouTube video for you to watch.

Now that you’re all listening, I want you to imagine our students performing.  They accompany the music with hand movements.  For example “beard that’s white” is accompanied by a movement that looks like combing the beard.  When they sing “Who’s got a bright red cheery nose?” guess what they did?  Of course, they pointed to their cute little button noses.

Just as the song reached its climax the door to the Town Hall burst opened and with a jingling of bells and a loud “HO, HO, HO!” in trotted Santa in his red and white suit, carrying a tote filled with presents for the open-mouthed students (most who had quit singing except for the worldly 5th and 6th graders).

The Christmas Program, circa 1994

The Christmas Program, circa 1994

I burst into silent tears every year.  Every year I watched the kindergarteners stand awe-struck and amazed.  Every year I watched our wee ones with tears streaming down my face, unable to hold it together, totally overwhelmed by the joy and spirit of the season.

Some time in this new century with several new teachers and fewer students the tradition died out, but I still get a nostalgic sniffle hearing that old-time song made popular by Mitch Miller and the Gang.

Unfortunately or fortunately, after this morning I shall never view this song in the same manner.

She doesn't look too happy to be on Santa's lap, does she?

She doesn’t look too happy to be on Santa’s lap, does she?

Our sweet daughter posted a link to “Must be Santa” on her brother’s Facebook page.  Of course her brother was still sleeping in California, but Mama was not.  I started to listen, a soft reminiscent smile on my face…

Until, suddenly, TEARS were rolling down my cheeks!  Not tears of nostalgia–but tears of roaring laughter!!  How could they have desecrated this childhood memory with such a hysterically FUNNY party-scene video?

So here it is, dear Christmas Elves, Bob Dylan singing It Must Be Santa.  (If you can figure which one is Bob Dylan you get the Christmas award!)

P.S.  Be sure to come to our annual Christmas program this upcoming Thursday night.  Even though you won’t hear Must Be Santa, you’ll still enjoy the fruits of the student’s hard work.  I can guarantee you’ll smile.  Nostalgic tears are optional.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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62 Responses to With tears streaming down my face…

  1. Kerry Dwyer says:

    That is going to be my favourite Christmas video.

  2. Colleen says:

    I love this Kathy, have been laughing all morning. He has a way of getting to the heart of things, like it or not 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Colleen, that was so fun to come across. Doesn’t it look like they’re having a blast at that party? Well, until the end… Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.

  3. I going to choke wordpress if the cotton-picking thing does not stop erasing my comments and then suddenly rears its jaunty/ugly head as if nothing had gone wrong. I had a nice comment about the rather secluded schooling of your children, etc. etc.

    I remain amazed that places such as yours still exist. I think that your are blessed to live as you do. Maybe that is why you are such a good writer. There is much to inspire you and it gives you time, I believe, to think in deep reverence in the surroundings of quiet beauty.

    • Kathy says:

      Darn, don’t you hate it when technology refuses to cooperate and we have perfectly worded sentiments already to post?

      It is a gift that there are still wilderness areas–or semi-wilderness areas–left in our country. You are right, it can provide inspiring space to contemplate life and beauty. We are lucky to live here.

      • Thanks for the reply, Kathy. After reading my comment I see that I made a gross error. I wrote(your) instead of you’re. I really am not as dumb as I seem. Or maybe I am! Sigh! I rush and I do not proof read every word. I probably have an error in this response, as well.


  4. omg–I was there–I was the girl in the pony tail–to really appreciate the party you had to have five beers and a few tequila shots under your belt (with salt and lemon–lime is so today). got a little cold when the window got smashed though. brings back memories of the old days!

  5. What a great memory, changed forever, by this hilarious version! Thanks, Kathy!

  6. Marianne says:

    That was fun! Thanks for sharing, Kathy. You’ve given me something to share on facebook to commemorate the happy season.lol!
    And, thank you for sharing the beautiful memory of your children’s Christmas pageant! I got sentimental just reading about it. I could picture there would be tears for me too. 🙂

  7. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, I always get teary eyed when I watch the children at their concerts, especially the Christmas concerts. And I know this song! The Bob Dylan version is so funny! Thanks for sharing it here 🙂

  8. Dawn says:

    I have never heard this song before…either version! Thanks for sharing. Would have been fun to grow up in such a small school system. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

    • Kathy says:

      Did you ever drive out to Skanee when you lived in this neck of the woods, Dawn? If so, you would have seen our little school. It is wonderful being part of that school family.

  9. sybil says:

    Dylan is the long-haired dude in the white top hat — wait, now it’s black — wait, now it’s a Santa hat … wait …

  10. Stacy says:

    Tradition is the glue that binds one generation to another. I’d be teary-eyed,too – happy tears, of course. ❤

  11. lisaspiral says:

    The video made me smile too. I got teary just hearing the story of your kid’s Christmas program. It’s definitely your daughter’s fault.

  12. A wonderful reminder that some tears are drops of joy simply too big to be contained.

    • Kathy says:

      Amen, Laurie. I used to chide myself before going to the concert: “This year you will not cry. This year you will hold it together.” It never worked.

  13. Wonderful memories. I have never heard this song before. You are indeed blessed to live in such a marvelous little place where, I am sure, one can hear oneself think!

  14. dorannrule says:

    The whole thing made me smile. I never heard either version but love them both – dual personality I guess. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  15. bonnie says:

    Our children….they have no respect for our tears of nostalgia 🙂

  16. Everyone needs a little Christmas humor! My equivalent song is the Rainbow Connection. Now that I think about it, I can’t imagine this has gone un-spoofed either. No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know…

  17. Carol says:

    Sort of like Grandma getting run over by a reindeer because she drank too much eggnog – give me Perry Como and Bing Crosby for Christmas songs. there are those old traditions and memories that shouldn’t be tampered with. Except when they make us laugh!

  18. Heather says:

    While I can appreciate and smile at the Dylan version, I’ll admit I prefer the traditional version. Okay, okay, I am a complete sucker for “old school” Christmas music, and it takes me a looooong time to accept new versions as legitimate.
    Aren’t traditions special? I’m sure this crop of kiddos and their parents will revel in the current tradition, even if they’re not singing “Must be Santa.”

  19. me2013 says:

    I started to listen to the first video whilst reading and tears began to form in my eyes, then I came to the second video, well what can I say, it’s a good job I have put my cup of tea down. 😉

  20. Susan Blake says:

    Hi Kathy! Oh too funny! My kids were terrified of Santa when they were really small and somehow this fear transferred into just plain out not liking him. They never fell for the whole Santa thing so I either did that part of my job badly, or they possess brilliant b.s. detectors! 🙂 They told ME what they wanted and said they KNEW I was Santa. Enjoy your memories 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it funny, SuZen, how some kids LOVE Santa and others are…well…a bit uncomfy with the whole prospect? Yep, our two were never the comfy kinds on Santa’s lap.

  21. emaclean says:

    Love it! I wonder if Dylan has a Christmas album?

  22. Gillian says:

    I remember singing that song in the Christmas concerts of my elementary school days. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

  23. Janet says:

    That brought back memories for me too. When my only daughter was in kindergarten (1996), I played the piano for her class’s Christmas program (probably called a holiday program). I had forgotten about it until I watched the video. (I didn’t even remember the song until the video played.) While the children sang “Must Be Santa”, one little boy dressed up as Santa Claus putting on each piece of clothing to the song. By the time the song was over, he was fully dressed. I tried watching him while I played the piano but couldn’t do both. Thanks for the bringing back the memory. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      How fun that you have a memory associated with this song, too! And how sweet that you were the pianist for your daughter’s kindergarten program. What a lucky mama…and daughter.

  24. What a great post, Kathy ! Starting in a kind of nostalgic way and ending in a real funny party. I did not know the song, both versions are good in their own styles, depending on your mood and the places you are in. I will definititely share this vidéo with my sons – they will appreciate, I know. One loved Santa, the other was afraid, hiding under a table.Thank you for reminding us of those moments of great excitement.

    • Kathy says:

      Isa, how fun that you will share this with your sons! That is cool. Both my children emailed to say how much they enjoyed reading about this trip down “Memory Lane”. They both remember their elementary school years very fondly.

  25. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing the videos. The first is much more like the one I’d sing with the students I work with. Don’t feel too bad, I teared up just reading about YOU tearing up! 🙂

  26. Reggie says:

    I’ve never heard this song before, Kathy – the Bob Dylan version was hysterical! Sooo fast-paced, I had to concentrate properly to follow everything that was happening! Such rollicking fun. 🙂

    P.S. Yes, I know I am about two months late commenting! Sorry!

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