The following Christmas memory comes courtesy of Katy Daley, popular host on WAMU FM in Washington, DC for many years, and now a regular on BluegrassCountry.org.
In 1990 I produced a radio documentary on Arlington National Cemetery and met several of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns. When Christmas rolled around my husband, Bill, and I thought it would be nice to ask if any of those young soldiers might like to have a home cooked meal with our family on Christmas Eve. It turned out to be one of our most memorable family gatherings ever.
The house was packed with three young children, two sets of aunts and uncles, some grandparents and a couple of neighbors when the two young men arrived. We had all the usual Christmas trappings — the tree and other decorations, the platters of pre-dinner snacks and holiday CDs playing softly in the background. I see now that some of our Christmas traditions had become so routine they were Ho-Hum instead of Ho! Ho! Ho!
After a huge meal we were all jockeying for the most comfortable chairs when one of our Christmas guests told us he had to leave soon to perform some holiday music at his church. He said he a few minutes to play some carols for us, and suggested that if he brought his trombone in from the car maybe Bill could accompany him on the piano.
So he brought in the trombone and Bill got out the sheet music. They ran through a few tunes and just like any impromptu jam session, there were a few “ouch” notes that had us laughing. Then he asked us all to gather around the piano and sing. We sang and laughed and called out requests for about 20 minutes before it was time for our horn section to head off to church.
We still smile when we recall the gift of music that young man — Jason Wiseman — gave this family. And we always refer to that night as “The Christmas Eve a WiseMan Came for Dinner.”