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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Share Your Gift

It was a cold and sunny Saturday afternoon as a crowd gathered in the parking lot in front of Shop Rite. The focus of this group was a large square contraption with large bells and wires with a bench and pedals and levers. Perched on the bench behind the bells sat a man dressed completely in black save for a gold bird-like mask. As up tempo music poured out of speakers, the man began to stamp and pound on the pedals and levers, working the bells. Theatrically he engaged the audience while making music best described as haunting and medieval. The instrument he worked was a bronze carillon, usually only heard from a church tower.

As I stood there with my family watching and listening it occurred to me that there is no better way to temporarily lose oneself than to be at a performance in which the performer is enjoying what they are doing so much that they draw in the audience. This Christmas season I have been lucky enough to be seeing performers who get such joy from what they are doing that it beams into the audience, drawing in all those who are there. We went to an Advent afternoon of music at our church in the beginning of December. It just seemed to me that all those who performed were enjoying themselves and sharing that joy with all who were present. The final act was a group of adults who, because they enjoy making music, formed a “garage praise band”. The whole church rocked as they donned sombreros and treated us to their rendition of “Feliz Navidad”. If the Christmas season is about finding joy, then I have found it time after time in the past few weeks. What a wonderful gift performers give the rest of us when they are fully enjoying what they are doing and invite us to enjoy it with them.

My wish for all of you, my faithful readers, is that you find joy and pass it along in whatever way you are talented. Whether your talent is music, cooking, hugging, or just listening I urge you to share the gift that God has given you. In doing so, may you find the joy of Christmas in your heart. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Memory

**Disclaimer: If any of my brothers read this and find that the facts are not accurate, I apologize, but it DID happen and forgive me if the details are not exact***

Looking back on the Christmas seasons of my childhood brings an eclectic deluge of memories. I can remember hearing the rustling of bags and packages late at night while my mother and aunt whispered excitedly, and my father’s footsteps while I lay in my bed pretending to sleep. One Christmas Eve we had a snow storm complete with thunder and I remember standing on my bed and peeking out the window hoping to see Rudolph’s nose glowing through the snowy night. Rehearsals with the children’s’ choir and special holiday dresses, one purple crushed velvet long skirt in particular, along with the feeling of an excited queasy stomach are among my memories. When I was a bit older I recall walking downtown with my friend after school to do some Christmas shopping with our babysitting money, and returning home to the smell of cookies baking. I recall that it was my job to help wrap gifts, and I loved the scotch tape with the Christmas designs embossed on it. I also enjoyed the time my brothers and I spent inventing games for ourselves.

Of all the events, sounds, smells, and feelings that I remember it is something that happened at some point during the Christmas season that always makes me chuckle. It was perhaps during the week off from school after Christmas, or a Christmas Eve afternoon. My 3 brothers and I were goofing around, as kids are likely to do when at loose ends. Someone decided that we would play a game of jumping over someone’s leg. One of us sat in the chair just inside the living room wearing a Christmas stocking on their leg and sticking it out while the others took turns running from the kitchen into the living room jumping over it just as they came through the doorway. Our house was small; it was originally someone’s 2 bedroom summer cottage that my parents made into a 3 bedroom by some strategic wall building as their family grew. So it was understandable that the doorways were so low that a 6 foot tall man had to duck his head to walk through the doorways in the house. At any rate, of my 3 brothers, brother number 2 was the tallest, even at a young age. In third grade he was taller than his teacher by at least a head, and it may be that this was the age at which he last played this jump over the leg game. I’m not sure if it was my leg or brother number one’s leg but when it was number two’s turn, he ran, he jumped, he hit his head on the top of the door jamb and howled. The rest of us, of course, rolled on the floor laughing and that is all I remember about it. I am sure my mother must have come running to find out what number two was crying about, and I’m sure the rest of us got into some trouble. Number two is no worse for the bump; he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at a private college. I’m not sure if my brothers remember that day, no one ever mentions it when we are all together. How funny that I don’t remember any of the many gifts I received for Christmas, but I remember a silly game and my poor brother hitting his head.