Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Carol Countdown: 9 Days to Go!

Admittedly I'm not that well versed on what's popular nowadays. My kids are grown up and living far away. I have a sixth grade student who is quite talkative. She'll tell me about something and I have to plead ignorance. She is always quite amazed that I have know nothing about x, y or z. It used to be easier when the kids were teens, which is a little payback for having to live through three children's adolescence.

Today I took some time and used it in an unexpected way. Looking at YouTube. Someone sent me a link and for about a half hour I just cruised around looking. I gather that Flash Mob has been going on for a few years. I didn't know it was so popular, so many have done it and I didn't know what it was called.

For the uninformed, like I was this morning, a Flash Mob is done in a public place. It starts with one or a few people who dance or sing, usually to a very large boombox accompaniment. As the song progresses, more and more people from the crowd keep joining in the center with the group. Of course, it's all been well-rehearsed but it seems spontaneous. The cool part is seeing the crowd's reaction.

During my cruising I found one that was done in Belgium in a train station. The huge group of people danced to Do-Re-Mi from Sound of Music. It was utterly wonderful. Of course I'm also a big fan of musicals.

The original link someone sent me is tonight's "Carol." It happens in a fast food court in a mall and it is the Hallelujah Chorus.

Many, many years ago, I was asked to join the presentation our Church and community did of Handel's Messiah. I had never sung it before. Even though the kids were pretty young, I committed and went to rehearsals twice a week for a month. We performed it twice in December. After that experience, I was hooked. I truly believe that Handel's Messiah is meant to be sung over being listened to. Or maybe just that you have to be able to sing it (in your correct part, not just singing with whatever part has the main voice) to really appreciate it magnificence.

I'm an alto. Handel loved altos, their warm, cello voices that were full and glowing. After that first time, I started singing the Messiah wherever I could. When we moved, I found a new choir to sing in. I went to numerous Messiah Sing-Alongs. Each year I would sit down around Christmas, put on my CD of the Messiah and sing through the entire thing with it, to be sure I didn't forget my part.

My daughter, also an alto, grew up and started singing with me at my annual CD playing. Soon she knew the alto part. When she was around 14, we sang in our first Messiah choir. What a great experience!

And now, the flash mob of Handel's Messiah.

God Bless.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Carol Countdown: 10 Days to Go!

Can it be? Two more days to vacation? Ten days to Christmas? I told my hubby tonight that we have some gift wrapping to do. I've got to get the east coast packages out of here!

It's fun wrapping with my husband...his way of wrapping is definitely his own unique style and the kids love getting packages wrapped by him. During the early years of our marriage, he wrapped everything in newspaper. Now that we no longer get a newspaper delivered, he's ventured into foil! Imported straight from the kitchen, no less. I've also seen packages with a ripped-off corner of wrapping paper taped on the outside of the box. The more presents he wraps the more minimalist he gets!

He's also a pro at guessing what he's being given. I gave up after a couple of years of trying to just put a wrapped present under the tree. I became creative. I put the wrong names on all the packages so he wouldn't know which one was his. That was dreadful, because then I forgot who the packages really went to. Then I went to disguising the present; you know, wrapping it in different sized boxes, putting marbles and nails inside, putting in a huge brick, etc.

I think the best year was three years ago. I went to Big Lots and bought one of those humongous Christmas stockings. They must have stolen it from Big Foot. My big idea was to put all his wrapped presents inside so he couldn't see them. It ended up not being big enough, but that didn't stop me. I cut a slit down the back of the stocking and sewed in a "gusset," an extra piece of material so that the stocking was wider. I got all the presents inside, including a last-minute impulse buy: a Wii. We had played it for the first time at someone's house over Thanksgiving and had lots of fun.

He's so devious. On Christmas Eve, when we open presents, about the third gift he handed me was a package from him. I ripped off the foil and saw the box: it was a Wii. I about fainted. So I started blurbering the whole thing about how I had gotten him a Wii also. That was when he told me to open the box. Surprise! There wasn't a Wii inside, it was another gift for me. He proceed to tell me, with a wolfish grin, how he figured I would get a Wii. Someone at work had gotten a Wii the week before and he asked to borrow the box to play a joke on me. That man! His ability to guess presents is the bane of my life!

My youngest daughter was born the day after Christmas. I've always managed to get birthday gifts for her, but most often forget to buy birthday gift wrap. I discovered that most Christmas wrap is white on the opposite side. Poor kid, she gets her presents wrapped in white paper. Once she pulls it off, it is revealed: plain ol' Christmas wrap!

Tonight's carol is one by Alan Jackson. My son gave me his Christmas album quite a few years ago. This song was an instant favorite. I was driving down to Southern California during December and had just gotten the CD. As soon as I heard Track Five I wanted to memorize the song. For mile upon mile, as I rolled down I-5, I played and replayed that song trying to memorize it.

That brings up the question, how come I still know every word to Johnny Mathis songs my mom played on the record player when I was a little kid, but can't learn the words to songs now? At least I can play the song over and over and over and over!

God Bless.

This is Alan Jackson and "Let It Be Christmas."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Carol Countdown: 11 Days to Go

I've been nursing a sore back and a couple of's kept me away from posting these past few days.

Only eleven more days and I haven't wrapped a single present, sent off packages to the east coast kids, the tree is undecorated, the Christmas lights haven't gotten up on the house. My poor hubby is down quite frequently and the rain is hampering us too.

What matters though is not all the wrappings, although I do want my kids to get their presents before Christmas, it is the Spirit of Christ. I've been listening to Christmas Carols for about a month now. I watched the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas last night. Christmas has many traditions, and I've been sharing many of them with you, it makes the season fun and joyful. But Christ means more to me than all the rest. Christ was born over 2000 years ago, yet I can feel him in my life when I pray. I feel his Spirit when I sing songs of his birth, when I read the scriptures. Christ has helped through so much in my life; I am so grateful for his birth, his life and his sacrifice.

About now, I don't think the Christmas lights aren't going to get up on the house. This wouldn't be the first time the Christmas tree only had lights on it. And it won't be the first time one of us has been sick on Christmas Day. All that matters is the Day, to celebrate and honor his birth. And, as Charles Dickens said in A Christmas Carol that we "will honor Christmas in [our] heart[s], and try to keep it all the year."

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