After being in choir for over fourteen years, I know pretty much every lyric to every Christmas song and carol ever written. We would start practicing in early October for the December concerts, and it was always my favourite. When the new sheet music was passed around, I would always do a little dance. Yay! It’s time for holiday songs! One year, my choir was even lucky enough to have the honour of sharing the stage with pianist Frank Mills. In my small city, this was a pretty big deal.
It’s been a long time since I have sung in a choir. A long, long time. But I always miss it most this time of year. There are some amazing choral arrangements of traditional songs that I just don’t get to hear any more. Being on stage in front of an audience, showcasing months’ worth of hard work, with candles flickering all around, it is a magical experience. The Christmas concerts were special. And so much more fun than the spring competitions. To me, that’s what music is all about.
It is also part of what Christmas means to me. I can live without snow or piles of presents. I will suffer through not having a large tree to decorate, or a big turkey dinner. As all of our family is on the other side of the country, I also have to live with talking to people on the phone or via Skype, instead of seeing everyone face to face over the holidays. Perhaps it is even because of this distance from family, that I like to have other familiar Christmas traditions around me this time of year. If I can’t be with all the people I care about, then I try at least to surround myself with memories.
Here are some of the things I don’t want to miss out on during the holiday season:
- Music, obviously. But when I think of Christmas albums from my childhood, I automatically think of Connie Francis, Boney M, Eartha Kitt, and a record (yes, record. I’m old, okay?) that contained “crazy” hits like “Don’t Be Late” by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Even just thinking about that old scratched-up album makes me laugh. I wish I could remember the name of it.
- Television Christmas Specials. While I love many of them, there is one that must be watched at least once every year. It is just not Christmas unless it is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. My sister and I used to love re-enacting parts of the thirty minute episode. To this day, I could probably do a decent job of reciting the whole thing by heart. Sad? Maybe. The practically husband thinks this skill is a little creepy.
- Candy Canes. In fact, it’s kind of shocking we haven’t bought any yet for our tree. Candy Canes are the official treat of the holiday season and it isn’t really Christmas until I’ve had at least five.
- Taking a walking tour of Christmas lights. To me, the first thing that truly marks the beginning of the season, is all the lights decorating the houses of my neighbourhood. Some go all out of course, there a few down the block that put on full shows with lights flashing in time with holiday music. But I appreciate even the simplest of displays. This time of year, when it is dark so early, it can be hard to convince myself to get outside. (Of course, my dog does a very good job of that on her own. I’m looking at you, Sheevs.) Christmas lights make it all worthwhile. After a few blocks, I notice the cold less and less. I guess that’s one bonus of a hyper-active mutt. She has taken me to areas I never would have found on my own.
That’s it! See, I am really not very difficult to please after all. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need to go rectify this candy cane situation. I have a lot of chomping to do!