Wednesday, First Week of Advent
December 3, 2008

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and SINGING,
'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will to all people!' " -- Luke 2:12-13

For Me, Christmas Has Always Been about Music

I'm not saying that I wasn't among the millions of children (or three in our household) who awoke around six a.m. without an alarm clock and raced to the tree and whooped and hollered because Santa really had come. I'm not saying that my sleepy parents weren't dragged out of bed before the sun came up to watch my sisters and I tear apart gifts they had so carefully wrapped. I'm not going to pretend that I wasn't a normal little kid when it came to Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, but before then, I'd say my mind was less on the presents (if my forgetting to get them until about two days before was any indication) and more about the music.

If you can remember a few years ago when Christmas decorations didn't show up in stores until a few weeks before Christmas and music stations didn't start playing festive music until the beginning of December, then you'll probably remember that in October nobody was even thinking about Christmas. Around school, conversations were about what costume you planned to wear for Halloween and what candy you wanted to get. The lot near my house was still being loaded with pumpkins without a thought of the trees that would come months later. At piano lessons, however, the beginning of October was when they passed out the Christmas books, and for me, always signaled the beginning of the Christmas season.

The first few years, my Christmas music playing skills were limited to plunking out the basics of "Silent Night" and "We Three Kings", and even learning a few new songs like "Good King Wenceslas" (which I have yet to hear on any of those radio stations that claim to play Christmas music), but as the years progressed, and soon I was playing approximations of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and excerpts from The Christmas Oratorio on the organ. But the level of difficulty of the songs seemed to somehow, for me, lessen their familiarity.

I began to question what good it was to sit down and play a "Christmas" song if those in the surrounding area wouldn't start to smile and then join in singing. That was the point of Christmas music, wasn't it? So I still practiced my hour a day of the classical pieces that were almost indistinguishable from those I played all year, but I often dragged out the old, lower-level Christmas books and played from them when I felt like singing along. They weren't as "technically advanced", but the fact that I could play and sing along with my whole family brought so much more joy into our home in those weeks before Christmas than any teacher's approval ever could have.

Caroling, choir singing, being dragged to Messiah sing alongs: that was what I loved, and still love, about Christmas. I'm not saying the cookies and tree decorating, and, of course, presents, aren't wonderful things, but to get together with a group of people and sing about, and feel, the joy of the season, is about the most wonderful thing I can imagine. That's why as soon as Thanksgiving ends, my stereo plays nothing but Christmas music. Sure it's stuck in my head all the time, and my humming it gets it stuck in other people's heads, but really, I can't think of anything I'd rather have bouncing around up there!

Except, perhaps my bio notes, seeing as how it is finals time. You don't happen to have the functions of the parasympathetic division put to a Christmas tune, do you?

Wishing you a happy, song-filled holiday season!!
-- Sarah Kane '12