Christmas: It’s music to my ears

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2003

Our five senses are never better put to use than at this, the most festive time of the year. Catch a whiff of the scent of a fresh-cut balsam; glimpse the merry red cap of the jovial Salvation Army bell ringer or savor the spicy flavor of a gingerbread cookie. Enjoy the warmth of a small child’s hand as she gazes wide-eyed with wonder at the passing holiday parade.

It’s the sounds of the season, however, that most fill me with the Christmas spirit.

Whether it’s the achingly sweet and gentle lullaby of ‘Silent Night’, the spirited buoyancy of ‘Sleigh Ride’, the heavenly refrains of ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ or the old-fashioned sing-along fun of ‘Jingle Bells’, holiday music can bring together all the elements of the season: festivity, frivolity, majesty, reverence and wonder.

As a young child, I would slip into one of the crisp white choir robes Mama had sewn for my two sisters and me. We’d all march in to a darkened sanctuary, each clasping a lighted candle carefully in our hands, inviting the faithful to &uot;come, let us adore Him, Christ the King.&uot;

Each year my ‘best bud’ Donna Rogers and I would mingle our young voices together in a duet of the beloved children’s hymn, ‘Away in a Manger,’ and later we sang of &uot;Gentle Mary&uot; and her sweet and undefiled child.

All those lovely hymns and carols taught me the true meaning of the holiday, one I have thankfully never forgotten.

These days, when I hear a song like ‘Breath of Heaven’ I experience at least a little of the wonder and awe of that extraordinary night, long, long ago, in a tiny town called Bethlehem…

And holiday tunes are just plain FUN. As a kid, I listened time and time again to our Gene Autrey Christmas LP, delighting in the singing cowboy’s renditions of ‘Up on a Housetop,’ ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’, and, of course, that catchy tune about that &uot;most famous reindeer of all.&uot; Singing those childhood tunes still brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step. (I bet they do the same for you.)

Never discount the pleasures of going caroling. I’ll never forget the &uot;Three Musketeers of Talladega&uot; (i.e., fellow school teachers and church buddies Rhonda, Donna and I) banding together to bring some musical Christmas cheer.

Unfortunately, Donna’s normally lovely high soprano had been reduced, via a rotten cold, to a baritone. Yet, when you mixed in Rhonda’s strong alto and my own soprano, it worked.

Some 20 years later, I can still see the grateful faces and warm smiles of the elderly folks we serenaded that cold December night.

I hope you all can experience some of the same magic, mystery and fun of the season through its wonderful music this year. Happy Holidays!

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