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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Tsunami of Holiday Events

The holiday season almost always is filled with delights and disappointments. In my mind’s eye there is a perfect Christmas. A combination of Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life” letting Jimmy Stewart live again; Santa in the “Polar Express” giving the first gift of Christmas (a bell only small children who still believe in the magic of Christmas can hear); and an actual Christmas Eve from my memory where a shimmery snow started to fall just as we walked out of church where my Mom had played the organ at Midnight Mass.

That’s a lot of expectations to throw at any holiday. In reality, most of my Christmases have more in common with “A Christmas Carol” before Scrooge finds the true meaning of Christmas.

To add to the disillusionment, this December, the warm Louisville weather has inspired me to play Jimmy Buffet’s “Christmas in the Caribbean” rather than “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”.

All of the events we’ve attended individually this past week or so have been delightful. Nevertheless, I feel as if we’ve been drinking from a fire-hose of festivities rather than just attending a delightful mix of activities. For someone who doesn’t have many social obligations the rest of the year it can be daunting.

A recent Friday night was dinner and an Over the Rhine (OTR) Concert at the Kentucky Center with dear friends. OTR has released three Christmas albums in the last 25 years. They describe their holiday music as “reality Christmas”. Though I swear I am not actually depressed, the dreary days and endless holiday chores put me precisely in the mood for OTR’s songs, such as “All I get for Christmas is Blue”, “My Father’s Body” and a cover of that well-loved holiday downer by Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December”, rather than songs about sleigh bells and city sidewalks.

I spent a recent Saturday afternoon at the Nutcracker Ballet with another charming group of friends. Even better, the group included children young enough to have a touch of wonderment as snow fell on the stage and the audience during the scenes in the “Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy”. Even I had a sense of wonderment—snow falling on us while it was at least 70 degrees outside? 

We finished out the concerts with a very old-fashioned, Celtic Christmas concert by na Skylark (with Irish bagpipes and harp) and one of my favorite musical groups, Keltricity.

As Henry Austin (guitar and vocals) explained, many cultures and religions, as well as pagan groups, have celebrated a mid-winter holiday. As the days get shorter and the light thinner approaching the winter solstice, humans for centuries have gathered to make merry. Perhaps we’ve done that to counter the seasonal affective disorder only recently identified that causes many of us to struggle with this time of year.

As na Skylark and Keltricity performed music, some of it dating to the 1400s, at a time when mankind was coming out of the dark ages and the repression of austere religions, winter celebrations (whether or not religious) brought people together in this darkest time of the year.

Sometimes I wish I could take a rain check on at least a few of the activities occurring in December.  Unfortunately, one feature of this time of year is that even for people like me who ordinarily engage in a minimum of social activates, it’s inevitable that at least two events I really want to attend are in conflict. That happened again this year. I was really sorry to miss seeing one wonderful group of friends because of a prior commitment.

I hope you enjoy this season with every bit of the holiday magic from your favorite movie. And if, like me, you are eagerly awaiting what may be one of the biggest events of this year’s holidays, the latest Star Wars movie, I will wish you a very Jedi happy holiday with “May the force be with you.” After that I expect to be ready for a long winter’s nap.

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