Love's Pure Light
Guideposts|December /January 2021
Ease back in front of the fire and let the singer from Checotah tell you about the gift we can all give at Christmas
CARRIE UNDERWOOD

IT’S ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE CAROLS—“Little Drummer Boy.” You know the story. He wants to bring a gift to baby Jesus, but he’s poor. He doesn’t have shiny, pretty, special things as the wise men do, with their gold, frankincense and myrrh. What can he give the newborn king? He turns to the one thing he knows he can do, the thing he does best. Play his drum. That’s the gift he gives to Jesus. The gift of music.

I’ve had that gift as far back as I can remember, bursting into song at the drop of a hat, something that made me happy and others too. Like lots of kids. My kids, for instance. Our older son, Isaiah, was only a toddler when I’d sing to him, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” in his car seat and he’d sing right back, “Yes, Jesus loves me.” Almost before he could talk, he was singing.

The first time I ever sang a solo in front of people was at church. I must have been six or seven years old. It was so scary, all those grown-ups listening to me. But the minute I opened my mouth, it wasn’t just me doing it. Something welled up inside me, something I couldn’t keep for myself. Sometimes you don’t realize how powerful a gift is till you share it.

We lived in Checotah, Oklahoma, a small town—population 3,500, give or take—full of wide-open spaces, pastures and woods. The countryside is so flat that my husband, Mike, likes to say, “You could watch your dog run away for two days straight and still see them.” (Just for the record, we’ve got three dogs at our home in Nashville: Ace, Penny and Zero. You should see them decked out in their Christmas sweaters!) What I loved about Checotah besides the good people was the quiet. You could hear the birds, the cicadas, the breeze.

Mom was an elementary school teacher, and Dad worked in a paper mill. We lived on a small farm where my parents bred cattle. Dad baled the hay and fed the calves in the winter. I helped out, bottle-feeding the littlest ones and giving them nicknames.

I had two older sisters, and whenever a fence got trampled by a cow or the wind blew it down—inevitably when Dad was out of town—Mom and I and whichever sister was around went out, got all the cows back in and then rigged the fence back up till Dad got home to repair it properly.

We had a TV in the living room with maybe five channels. No cable. We found better entertainment outside. I loved hunting for snakes, scooping up tadpoles and turtles from the pond, catching frogs in the ditch or fireflies in the fields—and letting them go again. My clothes were always covered with dirt and pond muck. Once I was at a friend’s house and brought in a cute little frog that I put in their kitchen sink.

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