Category Archives: Christmas Question

Gathering together…

Who likes a fun holiday gathering?  St. M and I thoroughly enJOYed the first of the seasonal gatherings last evening with dear friends at a local institution known for their award-winning cuisine AND seasonal decorations.  It was everything and so much more!  From the food and festive atmosphere to the wonderful fellowship with friends, we savored the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes during this extraordinary gathering…what a great Christmas experience and new tradition in our adopted home state!

Holiday gatherings in general provide memories (good and not-so-good) forever…which leads to today’s Christmas Question:

What is one of your more memorable or favorite Christmas gathering stories?

Just like Charlie Brown who attempts to discover the true meaning of the season by gathering with his friends, he is not always excited about holiday gatherings.  He does his personal best to “make it work.”  Call it twisted humor, but I identify with him at times.  Most of us relive certain stories of family holiday gatherings–the good, the bad, and the ugly–with less than festive memories.  If we’re completely honest about it, perhaps we’ve secretly laughed our way through a holiday movie like Christmas Vacation and thought, “Oh mercy, that’s us!”  While some of these events provide positive, funny stories and personal memories, we can also recall those embarrassing or uncomfortable events as well.  As a wise writer once noted:  “The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.”  So as you gather together during the holidays with those you hold dear, herre’s hoping you take a deep breath and a moment to reflect, revisit, and share holiday gathering memories; it’s a great conversation starter too!  And if you don’t have any, here’s hoping you make some new ones this year!

Do you hear what I hear?

Ahhh…’tis the season for marvelous music my friends!  This time of year is filled with the beloved sounds, notes, carols, voices, instruments, and glorious music ushering in the message and arrival of Christmas.

While talking and laughing early this morning with my sis during her morning commute, she was sharing her intense prep work for singing a special performance next week in Boston. I reminded her of her very first singing experience (see the picture) at age 3 as a member in The Cherub Choir at Kessler Park United Methodist Church.  Momma literally coaxed her (tears and all) to “boldly and courageously march in the line, stand still, open your mouth, and proudly sing for all to hear!”  Gratefully, she accepted mom’s challenge and has successfully continued to do so beautifully for many decades now!

We both share a deep and abiding love for all types of music, including Christmas music, and especially carols.  When pressed for specifics, two personal favorites come to mind…

The first choice is one our grandmother sang often, a French carol called The Holly and the Ivy (you can see her handiwork here):

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir…

The second carol is one we sing frequently in church.  Gustav Holst composed the music in 1906, set to Christina Rossetti’s beautiful 1872 poem, In The Bleak Midwinter:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter, long ago… (there are two more verses and this final one)

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him; give Him my heart.

Both of these pieces hold deep and personal meaning, but are only two of a long list of favorites.  So, here’s your Christmas Question to ponder today:

What are your personal favorite Christmas carols/songs to hear, play, and sing during the season? 

Here’s hoping you experience many extraordinarily beautiful seasonal sounds, my friends!

PS:  Beck…sing on!  And Rachel…play on my favorite oboist!

Christmas Questions, anyone?

During my years serving as a building princiPAL, a long-standing tradition during daily morning message each December revolved around a Seasonal Question.  As a long-time educator, I was especially sensitive to the reality not all our students, families, staff members, and learning community celebrated Christmas.  I gingerly tiptoed into the season, sticking to “safe” topics and generalizations to remain neutral (and perhaps, in all honesty, out of the superintendent’s office).

I’m retired from public service now and this is my personal blog, so YES, I celebrate Christmas; Merry Christmas, y’all!  If you will humor me, let’s explore this concept together over the next 30 days (is it only 30 days until Christmas??) pondering some Christmas Questions together…

Most likely you have a favorite holiday tradition or two; something you treasure each year as the season comes ’round again.  Whether it’s placing a special ornament on the tree, watching a favorite holiday movie together, visiting a certain jolly fellow (in our family, the Northpark Santa IS the REAL Santa), or doing a familiar holiday activity together, you have a Christmas tradition you never want to miss.

My sister and I always wrote long, detailed letters to Santa each year; it was our tradition we shared together at my little table right after Thanksgiving.  My parents took us downtown to Titches (yes, I’m that old), to visit with St. Nick, have our little chat, and share our letters.  I refused to tell my parents what I wrote in my letter even though they would do any number of things to make me “spill it” (Momma always said I was stubborn that way; go figure?!).  It took me a while to pin down exactly why they wanted to know the personal information within my letter each year.  This particular picture is me in third grade (with Becky) talking with Santa (mom had just cut our bangs to0).  Notice I already have a “teachery” stocking pin dangling from my shirt (because it’s all about the accessories, y’all).

Today, we still keep the tradition alive by writing our shopping lists and menus together (using email or text) because great minds think alike…we’ve been known to buy the same exact present for a family member.  Talking, plotting, and writing with my sister are traditions during the Christmas season I look forward to each December.

This leads me to our first Christmas Question of the Day:

What is a favorite Christmas tradition you look forward to each December?

In whatever way you and your dear ones choose to define the season of hope, peace, JOY, and love, may you take a moment during the hustle and bustle to sincerely reflect on those priceless traditions you favor and treasure.  If you don’t have a favorite tradition, here’s hoping you start one this year!