Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…
“Jingle bells, jingle bells jingle all the way Oh what fun it is to ride In a one horse open sleigh.”
The song echoed in our towns throughout the holiday season, sung by young and old, bringing smiles and laughter to all.
Ah, but there were some problems here. While we had ice, lots and lots of it, there was no snow, and while there’s no shortage of horses and wagons and even a stagecoach in the area, I would guess we’d be hard pressed to find that one horse open sleigh…
And now for the big question. Did anybody launch into a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells on Thanksgiving? You’re puzzled, aren’t you? Well, the song, that has become over the years as one of the best known and loved secular Christmas songs, written by James Lord Pierpont in 1850, was originally titled as “One Horse Open Sleigh,” and was intended to be sung on Thanksgiving!
It is said that Pierpont was inspired by the annual Thanksgiving one-horse open-sleigh races on Salem and Pleasant Streets in Medford, Massachusetts. There’s even a plaque at 19 High Street, in the center of Medford Square, commemmorating the birthplace of Jingle Bells, where in what at that time was the Simpson Tavern he wrote the song. One might wonder though, if after quaffing a brew or two, the words flowed easier.
Jingle Bells was also the first song ever broadcast from outer space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sent a message to Mission Control on December 16, 1960. “We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit. I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.” The astronauts then produced a smuggled harmonica and sleigh bells and broadcast a rendition of Jingle Bells.
And when all of us sang Jingle Bells we were in good company since the song was performed and recorded by dozens and dozens of artists, including Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Judy Collins, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Placido Domingo, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Spike Jones, Barry Manilow, The Million Dollar Quartet (Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley), Luciano Pavarotti and many more.
So how about one more hearty Jingle Bells rendition from all of you? And since I’m tone deaf I’ll just hum along:
“Dashing through the snow In a one horse open sleigh O’er the hills we go Laughing all the way…”