Pam Pardy-Ghent: Alleluia, Baby Jesus!

Back in my day (cue eye roll) there was no such thing as day care. When mudder was stuck for a sitter while pa was out at sea, grandma, or many times in our case, one of our many aunts took over to see that we didn’t die without proper supervision and a snack.

So, where did we earn our early learnin’? Well, Sesame Street began airing on public television on November 10, 1969 and I was born 11 days later; just in time to ensure that I had a good head start in life thanks to that long-legged yellow bird and the green grouch who lived in a trash can. But, there’s much more to life than ABCs and recognizing the number of the day courtesy of Count Von Count (Three! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!). 

‘I loved Sunday School’

Some of my earliest memories of actual hands on learning came from Sunday School at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Upper Gullies. I loved Sunday School, and I adored my kindly teachers. While it’s quite possible my first colouring sheet ever wasn’t actually baby Moses set adrift in the river in his weaved basket boat, that’s the one I remember. 

I can even recall being upset that my perfectly selected brown for the poor near-orphaned baby’s basket cracked half way through. Oh! The inhumanity! (the crayon’s cracking, not the abandoned child – remember, I was four). I also learned to cut along the dotted line when the scissor symbol told me that’s what I needed to do, and fold when it wasn’t. 

I recall painstakingly coloring, then cutting out wise men, sheep, cows, a star and a baby Jesus to fit in my fold-along-the-dotted-line manger scene one Christmas.

Fancy Choir Gown

While I don’t recall participating in any pageants at our church, I was in the Junior Choir long before the glorious baby blue gowns fit my tiny arms or the height that comes with age prevented me from tripping over their flowing flounciness. In fact, I could hardly read when the kindly minister agreed to let me try out for choir – something I dearly wanted to do because my older sister was in it and I had to be just like her! Or maybe I just wanted the fancy gown with the billowing sleeves, I’m not sure, but in any case, after weeks of showing up and looking pitiful (yet eager) during practices, the reverend hauled me up front of the lined-off pews and placed a hymn book in front of my face.

“Can you read?” he asked kindly. I nodded, though I probably couldn’t manage anything more tangly than something found in a Dick and Jane treasury.

How Great Thou Art

“If you can read the word my finger lands on, you’re in,” he said. My heart raced! Some of the words were sketchy, I knew! I’d seen the mess of confusing letters in words like (gasp!) Alleluia. He plopped open the book quite randomly and dramatically dropped his finger. It fell on the beginning word of the third verse of How Great Thou Art. The word was ‘and.’  I was in. 

While I can’t say that learning to read along to organ music, or creating a dioramic rolling the stone away Easter scene or colouring a pregnant Mary riding a donkey into Bethlehem made me a better human being, I can say that those are all teachings I’ll never forget. While I may not venture into a house of The Lord as often as I perhaps should, at times like Christmas I’m reminded of those early, simple lessons, and I’m totally and forever grateful for each precious memory of kindness and patience my born-into faith provided.

“Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a

— Luke 2:12

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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