this side of Christmas

A New Christmas Tradition Brings Joy

Joy to the World

Would there be joy this Christmas?

The very first Christmas after our father died probably seemed bleak to my family. I was too young to contemplate how different life would be for us. My older sister Katharine sensed that void and knew Christmas morning would be difficult for my mother and older siblings. I had no clue, for I was just five.

After everyone else had gone to bed on Christmas Eve, my sister carried our portable record player to the kitchen and plugged it into the outlet on the kitchen stove. By using this outlet, the phonograph would turn on at the time the oven came on. Katharine set the time for 7 AM. She set the stove on “time-bake” and went to bed with a Christmas long-play record album on its turntable. Hoping the time-bake would work with the phonograph, she wanted the Christmas surprise to indeed be a surprise, and hoped that it would bring joy to her family.

Joy to the World!

A Time-Bake Song of Joy on Christmas Morning

That morning, when the sun had barely opened its eyes, we woke to the sound of what seemed like a hundred voices singing Joy to the World! My mother thought, for a moment, it could be angels.

Thus began a Christmas tradition and a new rule. We had to wait to come downstairs on Christmas morning until we heard the music playing from the old phonograph in the kitchen.

I remember, especially one Christmas, when our nieces and nephews were visiting from Michigan. We woke up early, for the wind was howling outside. Stealthily, we crept out of bed and sat on the stair steps waiting, an even dozen of us, speaking in whispers. We wiggled and waited, wondering if the music would ever start!

joy to the world

At the first strains of Joy to the World, we opened the stair door and tumbled downstairs, anxious to open our presents. Anticipation had finally arrived!

The Best Tradition – Joy to the World

It was a wonderful tradition. The signal for opening gifts on Christmas morning was a song of joy because of this special season. Truly, the gift of joy is a wonderful gift.

Fifty-seven years later, I still think singing Joy to the World is the best way to begin Christmas morning.




The long-play album that was part of our Christmas tradition was by The Mennonite Hour. To hear the original song as we heard it that Christmas morning in 1960, click here.



“Joy to the World” was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and arranged by George F. Handel (1685-1759).



I found a photo of the stove as I remember it. The outlets that are marked show where the phonograph was plugged into the stove.

JoyI found it by googling 1950s GE stove, and you can go to the site by clicking here.






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