Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rita MacNeil’s Silent Night

Rita MacNeil is a Canadian song writer and folk singer from Cape Breton Island, with a life story as amazing as her voice. Her Working Man, sung with the Men of the Deeps, is the anthem of what is left of the coal mining industry in Nova Scotia. Her first Christmas Album "Let the Bells Ring", 1988, which we own as a cassette, has been re-released as Joyful Sounds. Her rendition of Silent Night is one of the most moving versions I know of.

I wrote this about 15 years ago. It was typical of Christmas at our house, slow start and a good finish.

T'was the week before Christmas and down at our hovel
Nothing was ready; the confusion was awful.
No Holiday spirit; it just wasn't right.
Not one civil word, just fight after fight.

The dust and the dishes and all unmade beds,
No lights on the eaves, no home-made bread.
"Marley was dead?" Somewhere under the sink,
For over three weeks, from the garbage pail stink.

The food in the freezer was cold to the touch
No mince pie or turkey, just broccoli and such.
The gifts that were bought lay unwrapped in the closet
"No payments till June, just make a deposit".

A Charlie Brown Tree, in the far corner stood
Wishin’ it were back buried deep in the wood.
Then came the Spirit of Christmas at last:
A Rita MacNeil song on Bron's ghetto blast!

Scrooge took time off from RPC Inc,
To deal with the dishes piled high in the sink.
Cratchet came home from his office at work.
With roses for Scrooge cause he'd been a jerk.

And the weather got cold as a mom-in-law's kiss.
It snowed like the Dickens, so Ky got her wish.
Lyn got out the box with the tree decorations.
We sent out some letters to friends and relations.

Son felt quite Grinchly, coming home lame
From spraining his ankle at a basketball game,
But "Tiny Tim" was nice to his sisters for free;
He let them watch "NC Double A" on TV.

We spruced up the place, hung wreaths in the halls,
Holly and mistletoe, bright coloured balls.
We took out the garbage and dusted and baked,
And had friends come in for hot chocolate and cake.

We watched Christmas Specials and read Christmas books
And sang Christmas songs and praised Christmas cooks...
What a wonderful Christmas, sheer joy and delight.
May you too hear Rita when she sings "Silent Night".

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