Her name was Aleene Dickerson.
When she moved from a very large home in the Midwest to a one-room studio apartment in our ward after her husband died, I became her visiting teacher. I also took her to church every Sunday morning.
Aleene was in her 80's; feisty, fun, talented, creative, and a joy to talk with. She was always working on sewing projects.
The high school graduation pictures of her six handsome sons and one beautiful daughter lined the wall. All seven played the piano and organ. She insisted they learn well enough to play the hymns for their missions.
She was jokingly angry with her husband as he had died and left her a widow. She often told me of the scolding she was going to give him when he would meet her at the Pearly Gates.
She also told me of the Christmas sing-alongs they had at their large home every Christmas season. Many people were invited. The neighbors filled the home, she said.
One of her children would play the songs on the organ, and for one hour the home rang with the sounds of Christmas songs. Then, she would hand everyone a popcorn ball as they headed out the door.
COOL, I thought. I told RAH about it. He said we should do it.
We didn't, but our daughter, Jenni started doing it. So much fun, she said. Only instead of popcorn balls, everyone brought a plate of goodies to share, and they got to take home a plate of all those cookies, cakes, breads. Yum, yum!
Then we did it last year. Oh, so fun.
So, we did it again this year.
On the Sunday before Christmas, we invited a few neighbors from the surrounding blocks, and our daughter from Hurricane, to come and sing along. RAH played the keyboard, Glenn played the Bodhran (Irish) drum, and for one hour, we sang. In between songs, sometimes people would tell a little story, or make comments, so of course, there was lots of laughter too.
Then we headed to the goodie plates, and stuffed ourselves with pumpkin/banana bread, veggie pizza, cookie bars, brownies, petit fors, choclate chip cookies, more cookie bars, creme puffs, and other delightful, high-caloric-shouldn't-eat-it-at-all stuff; told more stories and laughed some more.
Lots of singing, lots of fun, lots of laughter, lots of neighborhood friends.
So, thank you, Aleene Dickerson, for that idea several years ago. I'll be sure to thank you when we meet at the Pearly Gates.