People admire the Christmas tree (copy)

Visitors admire the tree during the annual Christmas tree-lighting event Wednesday at Monument Square in North Adams.

“Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la.”

“Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

“Sleep in heavenly peace.”

“Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.”

“We need a little Christmas now.”

Can you name these tunes? They are but a handful of the songs of the season which will be heard everywhere for the next month. The more devices you own, the more opportunities for the great programmer in the sky to send silver bells chiming your way like the snowflakes which will soon coat the hillsides.

Rudolph will be prancing over the river and through the woods with the little drummer boy. Frosty the snowman will wave goodbye as Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Folks will be decking the halls with boughs of holly while chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.

The herald angels will be singing, heaven and nature will be singing, and more angels, which we have heard on high, will be singing o’er the plains. On a midnight clear, the glorious song of old will be accompanied by harps of gold. Music is everywhere, and nowhere is it more poignant than when it is sung by a choir — often a children’s choir — after hours of practice in drafty church rooms.

Though the first Noel was sung to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay, we hear the same refrains at every Christmas pageant performed in churches, schools and, yes, barns from Maine to California and beyond. We see solemn school children, dressed in sheets, towels and a bit of tinsel, travel away to the manger where a well-wrapped baby doll portrays the little lord Jesus laying down his sweet head. We see the twinkling, aluminum-foil stars in the bright sky, and hear the pretend cattle lowing. Fervently, we pray: “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit them for heaven to live with Thee there.”

Out on the street, we hear the jingle bells ringing above the Salvation Army’s signature red kettles. A whole army of wingless angels are working to ensure a warm meal and brightly-wrapped gift for all in need, but especially for the little children who can hear the bell ringing on the Polar Express — those who believe. It would be cruel to crush that steadfast belief by leaving even one Christmas tree without gifts, or one stocking empty.

With so many competing sights and sounds to distract us from the deeper meaning of the season, we all need to take a moment to reflect on the things we cannot see or hear. Breathe in the crisp, cold Berkshire air, and transport yourself to a simpler time when the you of your youth saw with childlike eyes and dreamt of sugar plum fairies and marching nutcrackers. Bedtime stories had happy endings and the chocolate bar at the bottom of your stocking was big enough to share with a friend.

The greatest gift then and now is simply love. Love comes in so many forms, each delightful and precious in its own way. Each day from now until Christmas, let us share the gift with those around us, and those far away, as well as we can.

Whether it’s a paper star, a friendly greeting, or a cup of kindness, let the light of love shine out from you. It is in giving that we receive, and one of the greatest gifts we receive is the gift of peace. It is the single most important gift to have in a broken, angry world. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.