Hearing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” brings back a memory at least once a year. Thanks to the flat Midwestern accents I heard from most people as I grew up, I thought “herald” — not a word I heard the rest of the year — meant the same as the man’s name Harold. I was at least in my teens by the time I could hear the difference, with the name sounding more like HAH-rold.
Thinking of “Harold the angel” makes me think of growing up. In those years, I didn’t think of Harold as being alone.
Our family had a manger scene with all of the required figures: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, three kings, and even a cow, donkey and various sheep.
But one year, as my family has reminded me many times, I asked about someone I couldn’t find in the box.
“Where’s Gloria?” I asked.
The scene our family owned, which my sister and I enjoyed setting up and playing wi — er, moving around — included an angel to go on the top of the stable building. She was a blond girl in a blue robe with yellow curls, and she held a banner.
On the banner was the word “Gloria.”
Of course, it took several years before I learned what banners were. On the other hand, I knew name tags early on.
I thought the angel who went on the top of the stable was holding her name tag. There were so many angels that we got one who had to introduce herself. Harold Angel had to be somewhere else, so Gloria came to us.
Long after I understood the glory of Christmas and all of the musical glorias involved, we still put the angel on top of the stable and set up the scene.
I don’t think I ever minded being told about thinking that her name was Gloria.
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.