Silent Night will take on a different meaning this Christmas for the Pritchard family who, after 34 years, will be forced to call off their annual Christmas carolling troupe.
“We’re incredibly sad about it,” said Caren Pritchard who, along with her husband, Todd, children, grandchildren, family and friends, including several members from the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club, would annually meander through the Twelfth Avenue neighbourhood’s streets spreading Christmas spirit through carolling.
The first year the Pritchards and their extended rugby family decided to carol was in 1985. The family was loaned a flat deck trailer from Al Bush at Chilcotin Guns, along with hay bales from Beaver Valley Feeds, and off they went, Caren said.
When they moved into their home on Twelfth Avenue in 1988, other friends and family joined in on the fun.
“We’d have a great, big potluck and then go walking around the block,” Caren said. “We only missed one year in 2003/04 when we went to Mexico. It’s become such a tradition now for all our family and friends and, now that we have to miss it, it’s going to be awful.”
Each year, Caren tries to plan the event so it takes place on the last Saturday or Sunday before Christmas so young adults attending university are back home visiting their parents, and others haven’t yet travelled to spend Christmas with out-of-town family.
“It’s gone from our rugby friends and our family and friends to our kids, and their friends, and now it’s such a mix of people of all ages,” she said.
Looking back over the years, Caren said many great memories have been made.
“One year we rented a P.A. system, and we had many doors closed in our faces,” she laughed. “We didn’t sound quite as well as we thought we were going to.”
Other residents in the neighbourhood, like Willy and Vernea Berger, would always have a plate of cookies or treats and serve beverages to the carolling group: a treat Caren said everyone looked forward to each year.
She said over the years some of the die-hards who have never missed a Christmas carolling get together — some even travelling annually from other parts of the province — include Jim and Melissa Smylie, Buff and Paul Carnes, Judi and Art Prevost, Ken and Darlene Therrien and the Newsome family: Guy and Theresa, and their children, Kim and Patrick.
“We’ve had lots of people sad we aren’t having it this year, and we can’t have our usual potluck get together at our house, but we’ll be back and know things will get back to normal eventually,” Caren said.
“It’s just become a big part of everyone’s Christmas tradition,” she said.