I sat in the straight backed, hard wooden pew of the Cathedral and inhaled deeply through my nose so that I could smell the incense of the Catholic Church. It’s a scent that is familiar to all Catholics and one that I find comforting each time I enter the church. I quietly observed the beauty of this place, my eyes often shifting focus between the cement walls, the large cross in the center of the alter and the lights hanging from the ceiling. I wasn’t here for a Catholic Mass though.
The audience was silent. Applause were forbidden until intermission. I remained in stillness, thankful to be cut off from the outside world for two hours. One by one the songs were played, each performed by different musicians and conductors who added their own magical touch. Chorus, brass, brass, brass, organs, bagpipes, percussion and a popular high school steel drum band. The music entered my ears, made my body tingle, filled my heart and touched my soul. It was so beautiful and spiritually moving it was almost hypnotic.
For years of my adult life, I find myself feeling grumpy during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Year after year the frustration of shopping, rushing, traffic, retail stores being open on Thanksgiving builds and brings me down because the birth of Jesus Christ in our society is lost to greed. Yes, we exchange Christmas gifts with our family. Yes there was a Santa Claus that came to our house when our kids were little. No, my husband and I do not go over board showering our little darlings with every toy and electronic device their little hearts desire. They get a few things and randomly every few years they get surprised with a Red Ryder Bee Bee Gun type of gift because they are deserving. Before any gift exchange occurs in our home on Christmas morning, the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is observed and reflected upon.
So how do pull myself out of my pre-holiday funks? I look forward to a series of yearly festive rituals that make me feel good and fill me with holiday cheer. It began in December 2012, when my son was a freshman in high school. With his trombone held high in the air, I saw him march in his first holiday parade with his high school marching band as they escorted Santa Claus in. I wasn’t interested in seeing Santa that day, it was the sight of my son marching and playing holiday music that moved me. Miraculously I captured a perfect image of him marching by us. My son is now a young man who is seven inches taller than that kid in the picture and a freshman in college but that image remains with me on the home screen of my phone as a reminder and since that first parade, my list of yearly holiday rituals has grown.
The concert I attended last night, for a second year in a row was The 13th Annual Holiday Brass Concert, and it has officially begun my holiday season rituals. This post is the first in my Holiday Series. It is my hope that my readers who share similar holiday funks will be inspired by this and find their own rituals that give them a reason to exist during the holiday season.