Singing in the Season
I admit that my family doesn’t have many Christmas traditions. My parents are both immigrants and converts to the church. And while I know that my parents have done Christmases with all the trimmings … Santa, big Christmas tree, lights on the front of the house, etc etc … it never felt quite right. I remember taking up the mantle one winter when I was home from college (stockings and everything), but it was expensive and not all that much fun. I also remember one Christmas when everyone was so busy that Christmas eve found us without a tree. So, we put a pointsettia plant on top of a horizontally-tilted music stand instead and sang, “O Christmas Stand!” But that’s neither here nor there.
These days, my family celebrates Christmas whenever we can all get together. With a nurse, a doctor and a law student, and about half of the family out of state, it’s become a necessity.
However, this Christmas season has seen the birth of two new traditions in my life that feel incredibly right and good.
The first was my musical Christmas party. In my adulthood, I’ve done many Christmas parties … white elephant gift exchange, seated dinner party, sharing party, cookie party, curry party … but the musical one took the cake. With three guitarists, a number of willing pianists, vocally and/or enthusiastically talented friends from near and far, and goodies brought by all, it was a singing extravaganza. It made the hours of arranging and copying music at Kinko’s, and removing all the furniture from my bedroom, absolutely worth it.
The second was attending a Messiah sing-a-long. This was actually my roommate’s idea, but I was happy enough to do the organizing. In the end, I went with my mother, sister in law, two roommates, and four other friends. And while I often got lost along the choral arias, it thrilled me to be in a major concert hall, with a symphony orchestra and soloists, singing along with other Handel afficionados. After the concert, as we were passing through the lobby, and waiting for the elevators to the parking structure, someone started to sing. And one by one, voices joined in until song filled the space. Joy to the World. O Come All Ye Faithful. Silent Night. It was a marvelous moment. Near the end, the base soloist came out and joined along in the singing. As we clapped for him, he exhorted us to keep on singing throughout the season, then went to joing his family.
Music is such an important part of how I feel joy. And it was wonderful that things fell into place such that I could organize these two events that I’m committed to maintaining.
What Christmas traditions do you have in your family? How did they originate? How have they changed? Have you begun any traditions? How do these traditions make Christmas more special?