Thursday, December 18, 2003

SILENT NIGHT ~~ A FaLaLaLaLas Celebration of Holiday Stories and Songs

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace.

All lyrics are the property and copyright of their respective owners.
All lyrics are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

You would think that a story based on the Christmas carol “Silent Night” would be a warm and fuzzy affair, full of hot chocolate, handholding and humming “Wahoo-Doray” around the Christmas tree. If not a Norman Rockwell or Seussian affair, then perhaps you might expect to be reading about Christmas in faraway land, with thoughtful insights, deep lonely skies and a single brilliant star, accompanied by plaintive oboes and antique brass finger cymbals.

This isn’t any of those things.

It should hardly be surprising. After all, "Silent Night" has had a troubled, checkered path (You can read all about it, see the original lyrics and hear snippets of the tune here ) Its true origins and history have been obscured by time and fanciful myth. Did Mohr scribble the lyrics at the last moment, or had he written them a full year earlier? Who really wrote the music for this most favorite Christmas tune? For decades the true identity of the composer lay in obscurity. Did a pair of adorable Disney-esque mice sabotage the church organ, nibbling at its bellows, leaving it broken so composer Gruber no choice but to accompany the carol on his guitar, or had that been the intent all along? The legendary story of this carol is perfect. It is infused with hardships and insurmountable odds, yet in the final frame we are served a steaming portion of goodness set against the backdrop of a small church in a snow-encrusted village, its spire soaring deep into the crisp starlit night. Sleep in heavenly peace. Fade to black.

It would make a great movie. If only.

If you take a stroll with the International Movie Database and toss in a search of Silent Night, the vast majority of results are neither calm nor bright.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (aka Death House)
The mansion... the madness... the maniac... no escape

Silent Night, Deadly Night (aka Slayride)
You've made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas

Silent Night, Deadly Night, Part 2
The nightmare is about to begin … again!

Silent Night, Deadly Night, 3: You better watch out!
When your nightmare ends, the real terror begins!

Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation
And if I die before I wake, thank you

Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toymaker
He’s home … but he’s not alone

I don’t think we’re in Bethlehem anymore, Toto. I can’t begin to understand the morbid combination of slasher films with a Christmas theme because admittedly, I jumped off the horror express a long, long time ago. And yet, this is my tale. A tale of despair at that most blessed of times. Much to my chagrin it is a true story. I know -- I was there. And I live to tell the tale once again as a warning to those who may follow.

~~ The Tale of the Bloody Keys ~~

It was Christmas-time again. The snow was falling, the carolers were caroling and the marshmallows were bobbing merrily in the hot chocolate. There was not a Mince Pie Face (MPF) to be found for all was lovely and perfection. A young girl sat at the piano practicing diligently. Through the house the faint strains of “Silent Night” could be heard amidst the shouts of “Mom, make her stop!” Undeterred, she continued her playing. She wanted it to be perfect. Today was the big day.

The young girl had been invited to play the organ and accompany the small children as they sang with freshly scrubbed faces and rosy complexions (maybe there was too much scrubbing?) for the Christmas Eve family service. She felt so proud to have been asked to play for the children, and the fact that she was going to be allowed to play the organ nearly sent her over the edge. She was ready. She wanted this. Bad.

As the time grew near, she bundled herself up and hopped in the banana yellow Chevy Vega. Those were some stylin’ times. Over the river and through the woods she and her mother drove until they reached the church. The girl felt her heart beat stronger. It was getting closer and closer to her big moment. She could hardly contain her excitement.

She dashed inside, took off her coat and blew into her hands, trying to warm them up. Her mother shook her head and asked her, “Why don’t you ever wear a hat and mittens?” Like every other of the billions of times she had this conversation, she shrugged and replied, “I don’t know. I don’t like hats. I don’t wear them. Ever!” And with that, she skipped off to find the choir director.

“I’m here!” She sing-songed as she skipped down the hall.

“Great!” He replied. “Will you please go to the back of the church and get some bulletins?”

“Sure!” She said happily. And off she went.

The church was dressed in Christmas splendor. There were wreaths on the pillars, candles on every windowsill and a bank of small Christmas trees up by the altar. It was beautiful. The girl could hardly contain her excitement as she imagined herself sitting at the organ, fingers poised over the keys, waiting for her big moment. It was perfect. This was a perfect day.

She reached the back of the church and saw the pile of bulletins. She wondered if her name was printed inside. She excitedly grabbed a handful and opened one up to take a peek.


A thousand violins shrieked chords of horror in the crisp air. The cellos played a pedal-point of doom and a lonely bassoon tootled its mournful wail in the distance.


Louder and louder the noise grew, as the horror of the moment made itself painfully aware.

A paper cut. An enormous, king-sized (3 kings-sized) paper cut right across her fingertip. And not just any finger. Her right index finger. The most important organ-playing finger of them all. A million thoughts raced through her mind as the blood seeped out and spread. What was she going to do? She had to play. She had practiced. This was going to be perfect and beautiful. It was her moment.

She considered asking for a Band-Aid. She dismissed that idea, fearing that if there were no bandages at the inn, she would be denied her big moment. She wasn’t going to let that happen. Not a chance.

With lightning speed she dashed into the choir room, deposited the bulletins on the counter and raced out. Safe! Now what? Thinking quickly, she dashed into the bathroom and turned on the cold water as hard as it would go. She stood there, sliced finger under the tap, for as long as she could stand it. Perhaps the frigid water would miraculously heal the cut, or at least stop the bleeding long enough for her to play. When she could stand it no more, she turned off the tap and grabbed a handful of paper towels. She wrapped one tightly around her finger -- as tight as it would go – and prayed with all her might that this would work.

Church started. The girl stood on the steps in the hallway, next to the organ. The telltale finger, still wrapped tightly in a paper towel, throbbed in time to the hymns. The girl tried to calm herself down. “It will be ok… it will be ok…. It will be ok…” she repeated to herself over and over.

The time came. Smiling, the choir director said, “ok” to the girl as he slid off the organ bench. The girl nodded and climbed onto the bench, ready. While the choir director was busy arranging the younger singers on the church steps, the girl carefully unwrapped the paper towel from around her finger. It was quite an impressive paper cut, as wounds of this nature go. The offending bulletin had managed somehow to slice her entire fingertip from side to side. It was much whiter than the rest of her hand. Maybe all the blood had run out or maybe it was in shock from the cold water and the tightly bound paper towel. Filled with trepidation, the girl carefully examined her finger. Amazingly – no, miraculously – the finger had stopped bleeding. The girl’s eyes lit up, and she smiled a slightly evil smile as she stuffed the used paper towel into her dress pocket. It worked. Her plan had worked. Now everything was going to be beautiful and perfect.

With music in place and hands poised over the keyboard, the girl looked at the choir director, and together they began. The director conducted the cherubic singers, his mouth going into grotesque contortions as he fed them each and every word. The parents ooohed and ahhhed appropriately. The girl played and played. Beautifully. Perfectly. And Ambiviously. She never heard the return of the thousand horror-shrieking violins, the doom-filled cellos and the lone distant bassoon of sorrow.

It was the final phrase. Blissfully happy at her performance, the girl looked down at her perfectly poised fingers on the bloody keys. Yes, the beautiful organ keyboard was a smeary, bloody mess. All that was missing was a chalk outline of a body. The girl panicked. The violins played louder. The girl could feel her heart both leap out of her body and sink to the bottom of her stomach at the same time. The choir director came back, smiling at the lovely performance, and the girl returned his glace with utter despair. His face fell. His brow furrowed and his eyes grew dark and stormy.

“I’m sorry,” mumbled the girl pathetically.

“Go get some wet paper towel NOW,” he hissed.

And away she ran. Back and forth and back and forth to the bathroom she raced, bringing gifts of wet paper towels and dry paper towels until the carnage was cleared away. Sensing the horror was over and the credits were rolling, the violins, cellos and bassoon packed up their instruments in search of the next disaster. To their utter delight, they heard tell of a medieval feast, complete with a flaming boar’s head. This would be beautiful. This would be perfect.

Other FaLaLaLaLa Offerings of 2003
~~ The Tale of the Flaming Pig ~~
~~ Fifty Angry Men ~~
~~ The First Noel ~~

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