My Favorite Christmas Carol: and Why

Hands down my favorite Christmas carol is Silent Night. The route to it becoming my favorite Christmas carol is a story in itself.

A few years before my son was born, we had a daughter. She was born within a couple of days of her due date. She was born with multiple birth defects, right around Thanksgiving. She had to endure multiple surgeries–a few within days of her being born. She was hooked up to so much equipment in her little incubator. We had to wait days to hold her, and even then she was so precarious that we could only hold her for a little while. We were in shock and grieving. Only 7 pounds, and so much suffering. But Erin was born with the spunky spirit that she needed. We desperately wanted to take her home. We wanted to have her home for Christmas. She was born with a profound hearing loss (the least of her problems, for sure) but we talked to her all the time, regardless. I would hold her and sing to her…..this was a couple of weeks after some of her surgeries and she was out of the incubator but still in the hospital. As my determination to get her home I would repeatedly sing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to her. I sang it many times a day, every day.

Two days before Christmas, she got to come home. We were thrilled! Unfortunately, that night, her shunt (in her head) began leaking externally. They had told us their might be some leakage, so at first we weren’t concerned. But the next morning the visiting nurse came, took one look at it, and said she had to go back to the hospital. We were devastated.

Back we went and she needed another surgery. She wasn’t home for Christmas. I grieved. She remained in the hospital for a couple of weeks once again. For the next few months she was regularly in and out of the hospital for more surgeries. When she was 10 months old, she needed another heart surgery. A few days later, she died from a stroke following that surgery. She was 10 months and 5 days old. We were so sad and devastated. She died in September. She never had a Christmas with us at home.

Fast forward a few years. We adopted our baby boy. He was born in June. He was amazingly healthy. His health was robust. I was amazed at how quickly he grew and how strong he was. Every night when I held him and rocked him I would sing 2 songs. Always the same two songs. “Hush little baby” and “Silent Night”. Yes, Silent Night. It didn’t matter that it was months until Christmas. I sang it every night. I wanted him to be there for Christmas. I had a Christmas-sized hole in my heart. In April I realized I had been half holding my breath until my son was 10 months and 6 days old. But I was still worried he wouldn’t be with us for Christmas. In early December he got an ear infection. No worries, antibiotics cleared it up. Before I knew it, it was Christmas. Yes, he was still with us. By now he was talking all the time. He has a joyous and adventurous spirit.

Every night we sang the same 2 songs (Hush little baby, and Silent Night). He may have been the only 2 year old that could hold forth and sing all 3 verses of Silent Night without prompting, hints, or assistance. He never seemed to grow tired of those 2 songs. One of his favorite story books was “Silent Night” by Susan Jeffers. It had the most amazing illustrations.

He loved lying in bed and talking to me as i sat nearby. He wanted just a bit more chit-chat about his day. Then we would have prayer-time of course. Then it was time for the songs. We’d sing them together…”Hush little baby don’t say a word; mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird…” followed by all 3 verses of Silent Night. I believe that continued until he was about 8, actually. Then all of a sudden he said “Mom—I’m heading to bed; goonight!” Yes it was certainly time. There were no more songfests of the two songs. I was wistful but grateful that the tradition had continued as long as it had.

So Silent Night was and is my favorite Christmas carol. Every time I sing it or hear it I think of the time when my fervent prayer was to have him with us, at home, on Christmas. When we sing it on Christmas eve  at Mass you had better believe I weep tears of joy. Joy that our son is with us still. Joy that Christmas was God’s gift to us. “Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia”….

I will no doubt post again about Silent Night. Thank God the organ broke ever so long ago…and the first Christmas Carol written for guitar was written 🙂


About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
This entry was posted in Heartwarming or humorous stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to My Favorite Christmas Carol: and Why

  1. Dear Kate, Christmas sure is a time of so many emotions. I am so sorry for your loss of Erin. My memories of Silent Night are connected to Enola, my mother, whom I still miss also. We shall meet again.

    It is good to say their names and keep them in our conversations.

    By God’s grace, I gave 20 years to education, including special ed. I taught Sunday School for 12 of those years. So while I am not a mother, it was a privilege to support many children and their parents. I also helped to train teachers at two universities in Illinois.

    Blessings to you and your family, Ellen

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I would imagine your compassionate heart and eloquence stood you in good stead in education and special ed, too. They were blessed to have you! Did you train teachers at Normal and Circle or where? i bet you have lovely memories of Enola….may your heart be warmed by them. blessings to you, too, Ellen.

      • Hi Kate, Thank you. At Northern Illinois University, I earned my Master’s and Doctor’s degrees in education. Then I was on the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University from 1987 – 1993. I worked with many practice teachers in the Chicago area. By God’s grace and a lot of hard work, I earned tenure. But resigned in 1993 to return to Wisconsin–grateful for God’s leading and the tender caregiving years with my mother that followed. The last few years, I have reconnected more with friends from NIU and NEIU. They grew wonderful careers! Many are still in the field. My parents were both teachers. Thanks for your reply. Sounds like you know Illinois too.

        • Kate Kresse says:

          My husband is from the Chicago area–and i lived in Flossmoor during HS. Ellen it is wonderful that you got to be there for your mom in her final years. Wonderful, too that future teachers were guided by you towards teaching excellence. . . and I am certain that your students throughout your career were truly blessed by your inspirational guidance.

  2. Northern Narratives says:

    Beautiful story. Sorry to hear that you lost you daughter. Happy that you were able to adopt a son 🙂

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks. She blessed so many people in her short life time. Our son blesses us each day now. He has a wonderfully compassionate heart. Each door closes opens a huge beautiful window.

  3. Cathy Monteiro says:


    I knew this story, but reading it again breaks my heart and gives me hope all at once again. I don’t think there’s a greater pain that anyone can have than to lose a child. I am so sorry for your loss.

    And I am so glad that you got to hold and love your daughter, Erin, who you will see and hold again, and that you got such a wonderful son. I’m still praying for his health.

    Merry Christmas, my friend. May your Christmas be filled with the love of God and the love of your family, and of course, may it be filled with song.


    • Kate Kresse says:

      So good to hear from you, dear friend. Thank you for your kind, loving, supportive sentiments. May Christmas joy restore you this year. I know you have been feeling careworn yourself. I love you too

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