By MARTY RELLES, Valley Community Newspapers columnist
I drove down Janey Way last weekend.
I saw neighbors putting up their Christmas lights. It brought back wonderful memories of past Janey Way Christmases. One memory in particular flickered in my mind.
It dates back to the end of the 1959. Christmas vacation had just begun and a group of us loitered in front of the Relles house. The neighborhood looked festive. Christmas lights adorned the front of each house. The priests had decorated the exterior of St. Mary’s Church and nightly, Christmas carols echoed from the speaker atop the church tower. We wondered what could we do this year to make the season special – and a great idea came to mind.
“Why don’t we go Christmas caroling in the neighborhood one night this year?”
All the guys loved the idea, so we planned out the event as we stood right there in front of our house.
First, we decided to only sing a few songs that we knew really well. That way, we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves. We picked four songs: “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “Oh Come all Ye Faithful” and “Jingle Bells.”
Second, we went into the back yard and practiced singing them. We actually sounded almost as good as a choral group.
Finally, we scheduled a day and time: Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.
That night, we gathered in front of my home. Then, at 7 p.m. pm “on the dot” we walked across the street to the Thomsen house, knocked on the door and began to sing:
“Silent night, holy night…”
Soon the door opened and a befuddled Phyllis Thomsen opened the door and said, “My, my, what is this?”
We finished “Silent Night,” than sang “Joy to the World.” When we finished that, Phyllis clapped and said, “Great job boys.” Then she went inside and came back out with a candy cane for each of us.
Next we walked to the Costamagna house and sang “Oh, Come all Ye Faithful” and “Jingle Bells.”
After we finished there, Leda Costamagna gave each of us a cookie.
Then we went to the Puccetti house and sang two songs and so on an so forth, down the street to the Thomasetti home where we finished our singing for the night.
Our Christmas caroling was an unparalleled success. The neighbors talked about it for days afterward.
Sadly that was the last time we sang carols in the neighborhood.
These days during the holiday season, I spend a lot of time with my family. Last Sunday, for example, our daughters and their children came over to help decorate our Christmas tree. Little Gabrielle and young Angelo carefully hung ornaments from the tree, then ran up and down our hallway. Grand gave them Christmas candy to eat.
On Christmas Eve, we will go to Aunt Alice Petta-Goldie’s house for a wonderful feast of homemade pizza, Italian sausage and ravioli. Then we will sing Christmas carols and get a visit from Santa Claus.
On Christmas day, all will come to my house for Christmas dinner and the opening of presents.
But, I have not forgotten the days of Christmas past on Janey Way. The days of singing Christmas carols, serving Mass at St. Mary’s Church and making Christmas tree forts are all lingering Janey Way memories.