Tag Archives: Christmas memories

Merry Memories of Christmas Past Bring Comfort & Joy

Mary happily sung and danced her heart out, while AnnaLeah was content to be helpful in the background. Both full of life and laughter in their own ways. Both knew who was the best present of all.


Mary (dressed in a white pinafore with a blue scarf wrapped around her head and her long, long hair) was one of the chorus youth in Midland Community Theatre’s 2009 production of A Christmas Carol:

Mary as an angel singing Away in a Manger:

Mary (as an angel again) singing and signing Away in a Manger in a Christmas program the year before:

Mary, quite a few years, earlier singing, Jesus is the Heart of Christmas:

Mary singing and dancing in I Saw Three Ships Go Sailing By:

Mary singing and dancing in God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen:

And more tidings of comfort & joy:

Do you know what Mary knew?

Mary and AnnaLeah loved preparing for Christmas. Though their absence at this time of year always brings a longing for their presence, it also is full of sweet memories.

One of those memories is how Mary, when she was small, loved to pick out the notes on the piano (she played by ear) for the song, Mary, Did You Know? She thought it was special to have a song with her name. One year, Mary and I sang it together as part of a creative arts presentation at a retirement home.


I will be forever grateful that AnnaLeah and Mary knew the promise which the Christmas story — and this song — held for them.

More memories of AnnaLeah and Mary

1i newborn Mary and Susanna (1)

gertie 32711a Mom with Caleb waiting for Mary to be born 0011bb at the hospital to see MaryMary at birth1m newborn Mary and MamaMinolta DSCChristmas parade Isaac E and Mary5a AnnaLeah Christmasgertie 3272gertie 3213

An answer to holiday sadness: Christmas Through the Ages

For me, in the midst of ongoing grieving over the loss of AnnaLeah & Mary in a truck crash, I sometimes cannot shake off the gloom of living in the present without them to be able to joyfully look forward to seeing them someday again in what seems the far-off future. Especially at times like Christmas (any day really). . .

This program which I was inspired to write and direct in the fall of 2008 in Midland, Texas, reminds me of the hope which I have.The 4-Act pageant lasts an hour and a half but you could watch it a little bit at a time. Don’t let the length keep you away from the experience of seeing Christmas with new eyes.

Published on Youtube December 26, 2015

One morning in October 2008, I was inspired to jot down some ideas for a Christmas program which would involve ALL ages together and would not be simply about the birth of Jesus Christ but be about HIStory throughout the ages: Christmas Foretold, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. This was the result: CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE AGES.

It ended up involving over 60 people (hardly anyone at the small church was NOT involved in it in some way), including all of our family members living there at the time (AnnaLeah & Mary, too). And, as the Narrator mentioned in the Introduction, it has its share of glitches.

It still has power to move me; I hope that you will take the time to enjoy the experience of re-living CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE AGES.


December 14, 2008, Our Savior Lutheran, Midland, Texas

Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, verses 1 & 2
Choir: First Song of Isaiah
Cantors: Psalm 22
Congregation: Ancient of Days

CHRISTMAS PAST (The First Christmas)
Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, v. 3
Choir: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Duet: O Holy Night
Kings Kids: Away in a Manger
Congregation: One Small Child
Duet: The Lamb
Congregation: Lord, I Lift Your Name On High

CHRISTMAS PRESENT (Emmanuel—God is With Us)
Congregation: Emmanuel
Kings Kids: I Heard the Bells; Come on Ring Those Bells
Youth Group Drama
Duet: Go Light Your World

CHRISTMAS FUTURE (The King is Coming Again!)
Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, v. 4-6
Assembling of the Throne Room: The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili
Dance: I Can Only Imagine
Brief Order of Confession & Forgiveness
Choir: This is the Mystery, Congregation joins in Chorus
The Lord’s Supper
Congregation: O Come, Let Us Adore Him

Thank you to all who helped with this program, including:

Narrator: K.C. Blackketter
Adam: Rod Curtis
Eve: Kris Curtis
Angel in Garden: T. J. Freese
God’s Voice: Jerry Karth
Samuel: Jack VanCleave
Isaiah: Peter Karth
Daniel: Mark Gygax
Micah: Gene Makowsky
Zechariah: John Langhoff
Shepherds: T. K. Freese, Isaac Wilcox, Trenton Fisher, Jeremy Jones
Angels: May Lee, Amberle Carroll, Sydney & Jamie Walker
Sheep: Tori Freese, Anna Lee, Marcus Karth
Mary: Erin Wilcox
Joseph: Chase VanCleave
Boy Jesus: Keaton Curtis
Adult Jesus: Todd Freese
Magi (Wise Men): Kason Curtis, Grayson Stark, Wilson Stark
Cow (Head, Back & Middle): Caleb Karth, Alexander Hoak, William Hoak
Reader (Anna in the Temple): Kathy Odom
Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: John Leather, Joe Gassie
Actors in the Christmas Present Drama: T. J. Freese, Taylor Freese, Susanna Karth, AnnaLeah Karth, Logan Pickett, Cole VanCleave, Erin Chalfant
Apostle John: Mike Gygax
Throne Room Angels: Mary Karth, Leanna Blackketter
The Assembled Ones: All of Us!

Coordinator of Props and Costumes: Wendi Tully
Her Assistants: Jane Phillips, Marty & Sherry Wallace, Patricia and Jack VanCleave, Mike Tully, John and Nancy Langhoff, Regina Neal
Producer of Kings Kids Practice DVD: Levi Karth
Producer & Director of Motions for Away in a Manger: Danelle Karth, Susanna Karth
Assistant Director: Susanna Karth
Assistant with Children’s Involvement (and Encouragement to Go for it!): Jennifer Wilcox
Program/Service Pianist: Lisa Lee
Prelude Music: Hannah Wilcox
Postlude Music: Katherine Allen
Guitarist: Jonah Starck
Drummer: Cole VanCleave
Choir Director: Amanda Starck
Choir Members: Regina Neal, Linda Scheele, Sandy Brazil, Marianne Karth, Susanna Karth, Emily Lee, & May Lee (along with apprentice Anna Lee)
Cantors: Katherine Allen, Susanna Karth, Marianne Karth
Duets: Emily & May Lee; Susanna & Marianne Karth; Chris & Amberle Carroll
Audio/Visual: Jerry Karth
Sound Dude: Caleb Karth
Prayer Closet: Katherine Allen
Acolyte: Jonah Starck
Directors of Christmas Present Drama: Todd & Melissa Freese
Lighting: Katherine Allen & Kathy Odom
Dancer: Susanna Karth
Ushers: Jack VanCleave & Gene Makowsky
Technical Support: Isaac Karth
Communications & Publications: Rhonda Carroll
Inspiration for use of In the Shattered Bliss of Eden: AnnaLeah Karth
Inspiration for use of The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili: Rebekah Karth

Thanks, you all! Marianne Karth, Director
(I hope that I didn’t forget anyone; it took all of us working together and then some!)

To the praise of His glory!

Missing you this Christmas, AnnaLeah & Mary. With hope, we carry on.

I just read a post by a friend whom I’ve met because she also lost a loved one in a truck crash. It uncorked those feelings of sadness that the season brings.

On Christmas Eve, she wrote, “I am sad that tomorrow means nothing to me at all. I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I feel nothing at all.”

I commented, “I find that familiar Christmas carols bring on a peculiar melancholy feeling which I never would have imagined. An enduring sadness which I can’t shake. I suppose it is because this is a time so packed with memories–bittersweet–and it takes more work to create new ones (without them).”

It’s a shame really because I love music. So, I’d like to share this song which has the power to bring forth my feelings which are lurking under the surface–along with healing tears.

I miss you so much, Mary and AnnaLeah.

And my post from Christmas 2014: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/12/good-news-nothing-to-fear-christmas-letters-from-annaleah-mary/

Minolta DSC

Good news: Nothing to fear!; Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary

Minolta DSC5a AnnaLeah Christmas

As I was getting ready for the day, one of my favorite Christmas songs was running through my head, “God Rest, Ye Merry Gentlemen, Let Nothing You Dismay!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBoPx_5MU8o ;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69FQ_NBPESg ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoEbwwMJh9A

and this is one of my favorites, “Mary, Did You Know?”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ILtvvF-4qU

But what I was looking forward to–after celebrating Christmas together as a family yesterday–was spending some time today reminiscing about past Christmases shared with AnnaLeah and Mary, who will have no new earthly celebrations of their Savior’s birth.

So–for myself, and anyone else who cares to get a glimpse of Christmas with Mary & AnnaLeah–here are links to memories which I posted at this time last year (Thanksgiving through New Year’s):

A Christmas Carol photo 001Minolta DSC