“Amahl and the Night Visitors-”A special Christmas Memory
The Three Kings, Amahl and His Mother(Chet Allen, who created the role of Amahl, was a member of the Columbus Boychoir (later the American Boychoir) and played the role of Amahl for several seasons.)
[Copyright © 1952, Radio Corporation of America]
Christmas was always a special time in our home. As young children we were like all other children. We wrote our letters to Santa Claus and then we put them in the stove and watched them burn hopeful he would answer our letters under the tree on Christmas morning. To help us remember that we had to be good or all we’d get was a bucket of coal, we had a coal bucket that sat in the corner near the stove. Of course we were too young to really think about the fact that because we had a coal burning stove, the coal was always there as a convenience!
When I was around six or seven we moved from the city to a new house in the suburbs. This must have been pretty close to 1954. I can’t remember if we had a TV before but we did have one after we moved. One Christmas we put up our tree as we always did. Us kids made a bunch of paper ropes by connecting loops made from different colors of construction paper for decorations. We put patterns on the windows with templates and that stuff that comes in a can that looks like snow.
The tree was always beautiful. There were balls of all shapes and colors. Some had indentations that were made to reflect the light likes stars. There were some ornaments that were elongated. We had little bugles and drummer boys, Santa Clauses, and reindeer. The lights were all different colors. Some were regular bulbs. Others had discs on one end with tubes coming out of the top. When the lights were turned on the different colored liquid in each bulb gently bubbled. Beautiful ropes of gold garland encircled the tree and tinsel sparkled and reflected the light. On top was a beautiful star that looked like the star over the manger when Christ was born. Later, when the star no longer worked, we started putting an Angel on top. She always had a beautiful white lace gown and a pretty angelic face. Beneath the tree was draped a cloth that looked like snow and a beautiful Nativity scene. Every Christmas we always have a Nativity.
We then put up stockings with everyone’s name on them. Then mom put out jars of different colored hard candy. There were also candy canes which we sometimes put on the tree. Running cedar was every where for color. The scent was wonderful. Then in a doorway we had mistletoe. There were metal canisters of Christmas cookies. My mom always made the best Christmas cookies and ginger bread men. This was all topped off with bowls of fresh fruit and nuts.
One Christmas, like we always did, we were watching the Christmas specials. In those days there were countless Christmas specials and stories on TV. They were always heart warming stories that taught us about the true meaning of Christmas. On this occasion they showed a special called “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”
The show was an opera. Of course then I didn’t know what an opera was, except that it was beautiful. A young crippled boy and his mom were in their home one night eating their meager meal. They were poor and had nothing left but what they had for dinner that night. Sometime during that night the young boy saw a wondrous star in the sky. It was high up in the sky and had a long tail. The young boy pointed it out to his mother; but, she was more concerned with preparing their dinner. If I remember correctly, she didn’t believe him as he was prone to be very imaginative at times.
While they ate, three travelers came to their door seeking a place to rest for the night. They were Three Kings and their page all dressed in their wealthy and elaborate garments. They were on their way to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ Child who was born that night. They were laden with gifts of gold and other wealth to give to the Child.
The mother shared her meager meal with the Three Kings. But she became very jealous when they told her about their journey. As they told her that the elaborate gifts are for the new born child she thought about how unfair it was that her child had nothing.
Later as her son and their guests sleep she stole some gold from the Kings. However she was caught by one of the Kings when he woke up. Amahl’s mother told the Kings about how poor she was and that she needed the gold to feed her son. Then the Kings forgave her. They then proceeded to tell her that the newborn child is the Christ Child foretold about in the Bible. That the gifts were for him so he could use it as he made his journey to spread God’s word throughout the land. Ahmal’s mother felt even worse for what she had done and that she had no gift of her own for the small child. But, as she was telling this to the Kings, Amahl stepped forward and gave the Kings his only valuable possession, his crudely made wooden crutch.
Miraculously, Ahmal started walking without a limp. He was cured. In pure joy, Amahl began to dance around and sing his joy to his mother and the Three Kings.
The next morning very early, the Three Kings begin to prepare for their journey. They thank Amahl’s mother for her kindness. Then Amahl begs his mother to allow him to journey to Bethlehem with the Three Kings so that he too might pay homage to the newborn Christ Child. Finally, sadly, Amahl’s mother allows the boy to go with the Three Kings. The story ended with the young Amahl, the Three Kings, their page as they all walk off following the star in the sky that lead the way to the Christ Child.
The first time I saw “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” I loved it. Every year there after I kept a vigil at Christmas Time waiting for “Amahl’ to come on again. And, every year for several years the show was shown again. Then for a number of years, it did not come on at all. I never heard why but I continued to watch for it in hopes it would again air on TV.
I was reading the newspapers one day and found an article there about “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Apparently it had been misplaced by accident. If I remember correctly, the film was too old to be used again. They may have tried to redo it, but I really can’t remember. I do think a new version was done. But, I guess it was lost in the attitude of political correctness of the time that seems to want to take away God from America. There were several presentations of “Amal” at the local Carolin here in town. But, I never went to see it. Every year in my mind I replay the version of “Amahl” I have cherished since a very young child.
I hope you all enjoyed this special childhood memory. Please feel free to share your own. Don’t worry about length. I am sure our troops will enjoy our memories.
Merry Christmas to all our troops. May you and your families have a peaceful and joyous Christmas. I am sorry you can’t all be home where you belong. But, know that you are in my heart and mind throughout this holiday season.
To those who have lost a loved one, I too have lost a loved one. We must try though it is very hard to celebrate their life for the time we had them and be thankful for that precious time. Everyone else please remember these people and their grief and do what you can to comfort these families. They will need it. Especially, I ask that you remember their children.
Don’t forget all our troops who are injured and are in hospitals or at home recovering. They too need extra love and support from the rest of us. God Bless you all.