Christmas would be a health hazard without music.
There is no way around it-this is a holiday with a heap of stress. There is just more of everything, more events to attend, work to get done if you hope to take a day or two off, cooking, driving, traffic, people everywhere. There is also more of the F-word and I don’t mean my large family as I count off more members every year to attend to on my gift list.
For those with no family or means, there are more reminders of things out of reach.
The lonely get lonelier and the sick stay sick.
But there is also more music. My December is full of rituals and many swirl around music. Most cost me nothing so I’m happy to turn up the volume.
I attend yearly a historic school Festival of Lessons and Carols and sing the descant I memorized as a student. I can’t reach the high notes but then, I never could. My beloved choral mistress told us, before every performance, if we forget the lyrics, just mouth rhubarb alfalfa and no one will know. My own kids sing in the same choir I once did. There in the dark church, they file down the aisle, one candle at a time, to Once in Royal David’s City. The candles are bright but my tears are hidden.
A dear friend gave me two discs of her favourite holiday tunes. I now blare them when I drive my youngest before dawn to rowing practice and turn up the volume if a crazy cuts me off in the mall parking lot. It’s more civilized than the one finger salute (mine gets a rest this month). I whip egg whites to Frank Sinatra, tie ribbon to Nat King Cole. I hum too loudly to piped in store music but it’s not the first time I appear a little off. The flour stains on my shirt don’t help.
Tonight I will attend the first of two big bashes and both feature a piano as the main attraction.
My oldest sister and her husband have continued a tradition of singing carols with friends that was started five decades ago by my parents. My sister’s version rewards singers with a giant chocolate fountain. I am hoping to hear my nephew bring out his trumpet. As for my parents, they are still at it and we will be belting it out there tomorrow. “Cue the Carols”, from the Globe and Mail
It is more important than ever to hear music this December. If you can’t find it, wander into a church. You don’t need faith but you do need hope.
Answer the door to carollers. Sing in the shower. Deck the Halls works up a good lather.
Here’s to your health.
Fa lalalala la la la la.
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