Christmas Musings

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Christmas present has been a bit challenging for me personally. Of course, as I have grown older it has gotten tougher. I think part of me still wants to be a kid again. Some of it is age and missing loved ones who are in heaven now. Each year gets a little more challenging.

When I was young, I enjoyed Christmas. As the years went by and reality began to set in the holiday lost a bit of it’s luster. I had grown tired and weary of the commercialism. I had enjoyed the claymation TV specials when I was a kid. I still like to watch some of them. I really liked “The Little Drummer Boy” because he had an outsider’s perspective. I liked the music, too.

The music began to be part of what kept me connected to the holiday, along with my faith. Certain carols began to gain more meaning. “O come, o come, Emmanuel”,…God with us. O holy night, a song to me which should be properly sung by a choir because it sounds like the angels singing and the chords have a deep resonance to them.

My sister was in college choir and I was introduced to a certain carol in a way that stuck with me…Carol of the bells. That song embodies something about Christmas that almost defies words.

As time went on, I had to fight becoming like a character from a Christmas story I had come to like…Ebenezer Scrooge. Each year, everything seemed the same. And the pain I had bringing into the season was still there. One thing I have appreciated in the world of music is that when a score is properly respected, an artist can translate it through their lens with minimal criticism. Enter Manheim Steamroller and eventually…Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Both of these artists approach traditional Christmas music with a modern twist. Manheim Steamroller takes a song and presents it in it’s original form translated through a synthesizer and then increases the tempo to create a carol that could be described as having a driving rhythm.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) does something that resonates deeply with me. I am a child of the ’80’s, so I grew up with Rock and Rock’n’Roll music. I enjoyed this music as a teenager. In part, because it was loud. I think teens get enamored with loud music for different reasons. I think part of the attraction is the music may convey a message they are trying to say and the music is loud. They often feel as though their voices are not heard, so something loud with their message seems to connect. I also enjoyed the music because of the musical ability that was present in a different form (i.e., electric guitar). That is part of where I connect with TSO.

TSO has a version of “Carol of the Bells”. If you are breathing and have been around the last few Christmas seasons, you have heard snippets of it somewhere. It is awesome to me. I have seen a music video done to it. The title on the album I believe is “Christmas eve/Sarajevo”. The video has a little girl in it and seems to capture a magical Christmas from a child’s eyes, but there is also a seemingly underlying message. There is a part of the video that has a sense of coming from a news room. It is reminiscent of the times before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The feeling I get is, “Dear USSR, we are celebrating Christmas and you can’t stop us!!!” It is loud. There is a strong Christian community in Russia, from what I have heard. This seems to capture a feeling that I could see in my imagination of how those people would feel. There are many times when people feel pushed aside in society, they feel they are part of a resistance community. I could write for days on that idea. But, I will save that. As a favorite TV chef of mine says, “that is a another blog post”. This feeling in the music helps me through the holiday.

What is my point?? People are hurting during this season. This season has the highest suicide rate of any. Please…PLEASE…show compassion. If you have a friend or family member you are concerned about, check on them. Show them you care. You have tried and they haven’t responded in the past??? One, possibly try again. Don’t give up on them. They may have their reasons. Pray for wisdom and guidance in your approach. Please…PLEASE…if your gut says to follow through on something that is caring…do it or ask for help. If you have a friend, if you aren’t sure what to say…don’t say anything. Just BE WITH them. If you know they shouldn’t be alone, don’t let them be alone and find a way to communicate to them you are concerned and you are not leaving them alone. Secondly, if someone seems down or depressed at the holidays don’t just tell them to “snap out of it”, unless you know that will work. Try to avoid seemingly callous responses and calling it ‘doing something’. People are carrying heavy loads, especially this year. Give them what they need to carry their load. Don’t look down on them.

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I hope each of you have a good Christmas and a Happy holiday. I am doing my best. My faith keeps telling me to look for the hope in the season. I am trying. When I look, God always points out a nugget be it small or large.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!

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