“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Every Christmas morning, my family and I gather around the piano to sing my mother’s favorite carol, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” as she plays from the same music sheet she first used as a little girl. Bells, especially church bells, have been associated with Christmas for centuries. Bells toll for fellowship and celebrating new life. Bells herald hope and humanity. The soft ringing of bells is my favorite sound of the season, but I hear the bells long before Christmas Day. I hear them at the start of December, when my father, sister, mother, and I gather in the living room to decorate the Christmas tree. Bells form the basis of one of my family’s most significant Christmas traditions.