Favorite Travel Quotes: Ring a Merry Bell

Wanderers must have something to trust,
so never let Christmas change!

― from Ring a Merry Bell by Connie Pearce & Arnold Miller

The holiday season is a time of tradition. We fondly recall celebrations past, and recreate favorite memories. That is the comforting familiarity of Christmas and the holiday season.

For those who wander, though, “comforting familiarity” can be hard to find. On the road, things change frequently and rarely stay still for more than a few days, which makes the journey home for the holidays unique. It’s a time we can look forward to familiar faces and our favorite traditions.

Our holiday travel quote reflects that sentiment, but it’s only a part of the wonderful Christmas song, Ring a Merry Bell. Written by Connie Pearce and Arnold Miller, it was recorded in 1961 by jazz chanteuse June Christy with Pete Rugolo and his Orchestra. We’ve highlighted a single line, but the entire song is deserving of Favorite Holiday Travel Quotes status:

Things I have lost and things I am learning
Make the world seem strange.
Wanderers must have something to trust,
Never let Christmas change!

Ring a merry bell at Christmas time,
Hang the holly, decorate the tables,
I am far from home.
Sing a merry song at Christmas time,
Please be jolly, tell familiar fables
For the folks who roam.

High up, tie up the mistletoe,
Tinsel tip the tree.
Popcorn and silver, on top a star,
So bright that a stranger can see it from afar.

Wrap a merry gift at Christmas time,
Curl the ribbon, stick on fancy labels,
I am far from home.

Things I have lost and things I am learning
Make the world seem strange.
Wanderers must have something to trust,
Never let Christmas change!

Ring a merry bell at Christmas time,
Hang the holly, decorate the tables.
Light the highest brightest star
It may guide me home.

About June and Pete

June Christy is one of the great – but largely overlooked – voices of the Jazz Era. Performing since the age of 13, she met band leader Stan Kenton in March of 1945. By May, she had recorded the song Tampico with him, and it became Stan’s first million selling recording. The rest, as they say, was history. “Misty” June Christy topped the Down Beat poll of favorite jazz vocalists four times, and she had a string of hit records in her nearly 45-year career. Fun Fact: June passed away in June, of 1990.

It was in Stan Kenton’s orchestra that June met Pete Rugolo. Together, they produced nine albums for Capital Records, which introduced dozens of songs that are now Jazz standards.

The late Pete Rugolo was a great jazz composer and bandleader himself. Besides being the primary arranger for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Pete issued several recordings of his own. He was also Music Director for Capital Records, where he was responsible for the landmark Birth of Cool recordings with Miles Davis, Gil Evans, and Gerry Mulligan. He worked extensively with June and other Jazz icons, including Nat “King” Cole, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, and Mel Torme. Surprisingly, his widest audience probably came from television, where he worked on scores from a variety of shows, including Leave It to Beaver and M*A*S*H! Fun Fact: Pete was born on Christmas Day!

About the Picture

Rockefeller Center Tree, New York City, by TravelLatte

At the height of the Great Depression, John D. Rockefeller Jr. had an audacious plan to revitalize Manhattan and provide a new home for the Metropolitan Opera. In 1931, construction began on what would become the iconic Rockefeller Center (though the Opera never moved in) and, by December, two buildings were under construction. On Christmas Eve that year, workers pooled their money to buy a 20-foot Balsam Fir tree. They decorated it with strings of cranberries, and paper garlands made made by their families, and put it up amidst the growing buildings. An American tradition was born.

The first official tree was put up two years later, a 50-foot-tall fir that Rockefeller Center called “a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike.” The skating rink was opened in 1936. In 1951, the annual tradition “went viral” when it was televised for the first time on The Kate Smith Show. Since then, it has become one of many traditions that provide a sense of permanence to the fleeting holiday season. It’s comforting to know that, as we approach 100 years since that fist tree, this “holiday beacon” continues to shine. One thing we hope will never change at Christmas.

Fun Facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:

  • Every year since 1971, the tree has been recycled. Since 2007, it has been milled into lumber and donated to Habitat for Humanity. Before that, it was mulched and used on the nature trails throughout Upper Manhattan.
  • The tallest tree ever erected was a 100-foot Norway Spruce from Killingworth, Connecticut, in 1999. The tree in this photo is a 75-foot Norway Spruce from State College, Pennsylvania.
  • The tree at Rockefeller Center is usually on display from late November into the first week of January each year.
  • The 2018 Rockefeller Center Tree will be a 72-foot tall Norway Spruce that will lite up nightly starting November 28th.

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