A long time ago when I was a small child, we went to a church that had maybe 15 families. The entire month of December we would practice for the "Christmas Program." Every Saturday morning we would be hauled off to the church for practice. First practicing the songs, our Pastor was tone deaf and the old foot pump organ was slightly off key. I am tone deaf, and cannot carry a tune to this day, perhaps from these early music lessons. Then we practiced our spoken parts, these were usually hand written by the Pastor, scribbled on bits and pieces of scrap paper. It was to be memorized. Word for word. When you were little the parts were small and to the point, "There was no room for them in the Inn." As you got older the spoken parts got to be more difficult. No one ever spoke loud enough to be heard the evening of the program. The only one that knew if you messed up was the Pastor and you. I swear when it was time for my part to be said aloud, the old men would stop shuffling their feet and all the babies in arms would be suddenly silent. It was like the whole world stopped until I got the appropriate words out, sometimes the words would tumble from my mouth so fast they should have required a translator. What a relief when they were finally spoken. I always hated being one of the last kids with a part, that meant I had to nervously wait for most of the program to be over before I could feel any relief and relax.
After the program, the ladies passed out paper bags, everyone got a paper bag filled with treats. I used to peak inside my bag to make sure the apple was in there. Just my luck, I would get the only bag with no apple and I would not realize it until we got home, at which time it would be too late. I deserved that apple, giving up entire Saturday mornings to practice and memorize my part, and then getting no apple would have dissolved me into tears for sure. I clutched that sack in my hands all the way home, we lived just four miles from the church, so the car would not be warm, so I shivered all the while clutching onto that bag. Our good going to church clothes were never as warm as our everyday clothes. Sometimes that four mile ride seemed to take forever.
When I got home I would take out that apple, and polish it. I would separate out all my peanuts in the shells from the hard candy, and the occasional chocolate covered white sweet mountain of a candy that I can not recall the name of. I would brush off all the peanut skins that would adhere to the hard candy. I would put the hard candy on my dresser. I would then eat all of the peanuts and wait for my Mother or Father to cut up the apple into slices for my brother and I. I would share my apple with him, as long as he promised to share his with me. This promise to share was usually firmed up by "Swearing on a stack of Holy Bibles as tall as our Dad" None of that linking pinkie swearing for us. We did the real thing raising our right hand and everything. After all if you raised your right hand and swore on a stack of Holy Bibles taller than your Dad, there was no way you could back out of a promise made:)