I Got a Hippopotamus for Christmas…

“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat. Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!”

-Traditional Christmas Carol

Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. With Halloween, my November birthday, Thanksgiving, and my daughter’s birthday, I always have so much to celebrate! As a child, I especially looked forward to fall because my family and I would begin our Christmas show rehearsals. We were a 3 generational music group called “The Belles and Beau of Christmas,” made up of my Grandmother Ruth, mother, aunts, sisters, and cousins. We played and sang everything from “Deck the Halls” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Silent Night,” and, of course, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

In order to capture the essence of our childhood Christmas shows, I have written a few of my favorite memories. Several of these events show up in my music fiction!

“The Twelve escapades of Christmas”

12. Singing the intro to “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and watching the audience laugh when the youngest member of the group emerged as Rudolf with a red, strap-on nose. Rudolf would then gallop vigorously around the stage, pretending to lead Santa’s sleigh.

11. The Christmas show when one of my sisters kicked off her shoes during the Rudolf dance, and the rest of us followed suit. Soon the stage was strewn with little black Mary Jane shoes!

10. Wearing matching Christmas dresses with my sisters sewn by my Dad’s mom, Carol, who wasn’t musical herself, but contributed her time and talent to the production. She never forgot to include the puffed sleeves!

9. Singing “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” but being deathly afraid when my two oldest cousins came on stage in a giant hippo costume!

The terrifying hippo

8. In later years of the show, laughing at my sister who had to personify the back-side of the hippo while I dressed up as the over-sized head.

7. The older cousins building the base of a pyramid so a little cousin could jump off of their backs to the line “Out Jumps Good Old Santa Claus.”

6. Performing a Nutcracker violin medley while my younger sisters and cousins marched around on stage dressed in soldier uniforms.

5. Leaning over, with my finger to my mouth, and saying “Ssshhhh” to my aunt when she sang a really high note in the middle of “Christmas is Coming.”

4. Dancing as hard as I could to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” even though my middle school dance moves needed a little tweaking…

3.  Playing and singing the harmony part to “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and thinking I was very grown-up because I could carry an alto line for the first time!

2. Representing the 3 kings by presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

1. My number one memory, however, didn’t actually involve me. After singing, playing, and dancing to the Christmas carols, near the end of the program my mom and her sister would always sing my personal favorite, “O Holy Night.” I will never forget standing backstage, listening in awe as mom’s beautiful soprano sailed over the audience. With her voice like an angel, she always knew how to convey the true meaning of the season: the birth of Christ.

This Christmas, we are releasing our own music video of O Holy Night to capture the magic of the season and the wonder of Christ’s birth. Stay tuned!