Holiday Series Part 3: Music

The stage was decorated with poinsettia plants. The auditorium was dark. The band wore Santa hats. People who know this band and have kids who’ve played in this band look forward to this song each year. The audience sat quietly as the band prepared to play it’s final selection: Sleigh Ride. I’m listening to the video I filmed during the concert as I write this. I can’t help but to smile. My son was a member of this band during his junior and senior years of high school. My daughter is a freshman member of this band, this gifted and talented band.  I smile because I’m so proud of the preparation my daughter put into preparing for this concert and playing this song. She was delighted to have been given second trumpet music. One day, several weeks before the concert, she admitted to me that she lost her place in class while rehearsing this song and that when she made contact with the band director he knew she’d lost her place too. She didn’t like that feeling so she took the problem to her private music teacher. Together, they tackled it and she learned to play the piece with confidence, without difficulty and without getting lost. The following evening we attended the Guitar Concert at the high school and a few days after that I attended the Christmas concert at our church, where my daughter performs in the Youth Band.

Music by far puts me in the holiday spirit, especially music that my children are playing on their instruments.  I don’t need to hear it 24/7 but when it’s on the radio I do enjoy it. I prefer songs related to the birth of Jesus but I do have a few other favorites.

Here’s my list, in the order that I remember.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sleigh Ride

Silver Bells- Motown Version

Ave Maria-don’t all Italians like this song?

Christmas Night

What Child is This

Away in a Manger

Silent Night-the Stevie Nicks version.

Little Drummer Boy-Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band version

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Happy Christmas- John Lennon

Joy to the World

Christmas Is the Time to Say I love You-Billy Squire

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Chipmunks Christmas

White Christmas- I’m from Buffalo, NY and I like snow on Christmas!

Christmas All Over Again-Tom Petty

O Come All Ye Faithful- ok I’ll admit it was the Brady Bunch season 1 Episode 12: The Voice of Christmas that got me into this song at a young age. Carol Brady had just miraculously recovered from Laryngitis to sing this song for her church on Christmas morning. Listen to the words though: O Come all ye faithful. Joyful and triumphant. O come ye. O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the King of Angels. O come let us adore him. O come let us adore him. O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord. I have no musical ability what so ever and I have to get really drunk to even consider singing Karaoke. This song however makes me just want to stand up and belt out a song during Christmas Eve Mass. So I sing and try not to kill the people in the pew in front of me with my off tune voice.

Here’s my least favorite song of all time: Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney. This song agitates me so much it makes me want to throw myself out of a moving car.

That’s all that nurse has to say for now. Have a great week.






Holiday Series Take 1

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.

It’s Just a Chair

My daughter started high school two weeks ago. She’d had difficulty falling asleep the night before school started. She said she couldn’t quiet her mind. Deep down inside, I knew what she was thinking: Will I be accepted by my peers? Will I succeed in high school? We all had those worries as teenagers.

My daughter is my extroverted, free spirited child that thinks outside of the box. She always has been. She has a wide variety of friends that I can’t keep track of. Every other week she has a new college major in mind. She can teach our dog to do tricks when none of us have the patience. She figures out algebra and geometry equations in her head without showing her work, which is way over my head. At a young age she’d find complicated ways of moving tiles around the Rummy Cube game just to make one play. When she was 4 1/2 she figured out how to use two game pieces on the same square to block other players from getting around the Parcheesi game board. She’s open to trying new things and she accepts situations in life as they come.

I’ve mentioned before that my kids are band kids. My daughter has played trumpet since fifth grade. She named her trumpet Treena. Midway through her seventh grade year, she began taking lessons with one of the high school band directors. In the spring of her eighth grade year we learned that she had been place in Wind Ensemble as a freshman. Wind Ensemble is the highest level and gifted and talented band class. She was flattered and extremely thankful for the opportunity. My son didn’t get into that class until he was a junior in high school. She’s always the first to admit when she thinks she messed up an audition or a piece of music. Last week, they had seat placement auditions in her class. There are five trumpets. She practiced. She had lessons. Naturally when she said the audition went well I anticipated her earning at least second trumpet music. She came home yesterday and said she’d been given third trumpet music and placed in the last seat. She also said the band director advised them that second and third trumpet music would alternate.

My jaw dropped and my mouth is perpetually hanging open. We don’t put pressure on our kids to achieve certain things but we do expect A’s and B’s. Also, I don’t claim that my daughter is a Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong but I know the girl can hold her own with her trumpet. Inside I’m wondering if the band director thinks my daughter stinks. It bugs me I guess because I did poorly in high school and I’m so proud of my kids because they’ve exceeded our expectations and will not go into college swimming against the current with their heads barely above water like I did.

Really though, third trumpet last seat? Instinctively I confided in one of my band parent friends who has a family music back ground and who’s sons who’d graduated in 2014 and 2015 and were also in that class. I also spoke to my son who graduated this year. Both said seat placement is a complicated matter and there’s reasons musicians are placed in certain seats and just because she’s in the last seat doesn’t mean she stinks. My friend also advised me that if it doesn’t bother her, it shouldn’t bother me. So I asked her if her seat placement bothered her. She said, “it’s just a chair”.

I admire her for that. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. In her mind she was placed where she was placed and she accepts that. She doesn’t have to know the reason. She just wants to play her trumpet and learn challenging music. I know that her being in that class will not only enhance her trumpet playing skills, it will expand her ability to think outside of the box even more. So I’ll let it go. After all, it is just a chair.

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