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I remember Christmas in the '50s when the children's programs took place on Christmas Eve,

  • not on a Sunday or two before, 
  • and when it was traditional to go home after the program and open presents. 

Ah, those programs! Girls in dainty dresses, boys in ties; adorable speeches, cherished carols.

But the highlight, yes, the highlight of our evening was Rev. B.J. Haan.

At the end of the program he'd walk proudly to the front of the church.

He'd turn his head from side to side, beaming at everybody.

He'd rub his hands together and say, "My, my, my. That was the best program we ever had!"

Then he'd go on to ask, "How many kids are going home to open presents?"

After a nearly 100% show of hands, he'd ask, "Did you all buy a present for your parents?"

Another good show of hands brought him to his favorite question,

"How many of you bought your dad a tie?"

Some hands would go up, some hesitantly, afraid to reveal a secret.

One year the inevitable happened. A little Douma girl, on seeing her sister's hand raised, spoke up—hurt and angry—"BETH - Y ! ! You TOLD ! ! !" While she choked back the tears, the audience stifled chuckles.

Rev. Haan rushed into his closing prayer. And it was over. The elders and deacons handed out candy while Mrs. Gerritsma played the organ recessional.

I loved Christmas in the '50s. I loved the sparkle in the children's eyes. 

I loved the exuberance in Rev. Haan's voice.

I wonder if he got a tie that Christmas.

I wonder how many dads will get ties this year.

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