Christmas music and me
In theory, I don’t celebrate Christmas. I was raised lighting candles on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, with blessings and presents and latkes to match. But when I was growing up, everyone else on our street celebrated Christmas – everyone else in our school celebrated Christmas. And since I was in the school chorus, I learned Christmas carols.
I loved them. Did I feel guilty about that? Oh yeah. On some level, I felt I was betraying my religion. But that didn’t stop me from learning my part to every carol (I was an alto) and giving it my all during school concerts and visits to nursing homes and hospital wards with my group.
If you’ve never experienced Christmas Eve as a non-Christian, please know that back in those days, there was nothing, absolutely nothing to do. Restaurants were closed. Malls were closed. Even movie theaters were closed back then. And television? Four channels, all showing reruns. Out of sheer desperation, we took to driving into Boston every Christmas Eve, where carolers clustered on the stoops of the townhouses that ringed Beacon Hill’s Louisburg Square. More singing. I loved it!
There are many, many more choices today, but what I love most are the myriad opportunities to enjoy seasonal music. Satellite radio has stations devoted to Christmas music from Thanksgiving on. And Pandora? How special is that? I have created half a dozen special stations, my favorite being ‘Peaceful Holiday.’
Oh oh oh, and Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker?” There’s a whole other brand of Christmas music. For many years, one of my sons gifted me with a trip (with him) to that ballet. We never tired of it. I’m just waiting now for his kids to be old enough to go.
Carols move me. The tunes are lilting, the harmonies exquisite. And okay, I may not celebrate Christmas in a religious sense, but in terms of wishing for peace on earth and good will toward men, I’m wholly on board.
So. To you and yours, I wish – well, yes – peace and good will. Add good health to that, and we’re good to go for 2014.
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Peace and good will to you and yours as well, Barbara. Had to chuckle at this blog post, as I have been listening to Pandora for days to enjoy the Christmas carols myself! There’s nothing like this time of year, the music, the lights and the time with family and friends.
Reading about your going to the Nutcracker with your son. For many years whenever we were in NYC overthe holidays my dad would take me see the New York City Ballet. When my kids were young I would take them to Portland, OR to see the Nutcracker. I love sharing magical experiences from one generation to to the next.
Then you will probably enjoy this one too:
There is just something about the holidays and music!
I still light candles for eight days, and fix latkes, that have never gotten to the table, as everyone needs to taste test. I grew up in Baltimore, which has a fairly large Jewish population. My dad introduced me to volunteer work, and by the time I was a teenager I volunteered in Sinai Hospital on Christmas. Volunteering allowed me to help others, allowed those who celebrated the holiday to do so, and I was never bored. I love the music of the season, but people always either cringe or cover my mouth when I attempt to sing.
I feel that what ever you celebrate at this time of year, may it been done in peace and goodwill for all… I enjoy hear music whatever the celebration it is.. At Christmas time, which what I celebrate, I love to hear traditional carols, especially “O’Holy Night”.. I am not familiar with a lot of Chanukah songs, but I am sure I would like them if I heard them. I think the lighting of the Candles for Eight days is a wonderful thing. We have to keep our traditions alive in our celebrations and rejoice in them… Happy Holidays,
Love your books–especially Family Tree! Thanks for mentioning the Peaceful Holidays station on Pandora! I’ve been listening to it all day and it is so relaxing!
BARBARA, HAVE U EVER BEEN TO THE MIDNITE MASS ON XMAS EVE? AWESOME. I VISITED A POLISH CHURCH DURING XMAS. SO BEAUTIFUL. MAY THE LIGHTS OF OUR MENORAH SHINE BRIGHTLY FOR ALL TO ENJOY. MAY WE ALL APPRECIATE OUR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS. MAY U ALL HAVE A HEALTHY AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Barbara, I just wanted to tell you that on Christmas Eve after midnight I loved to go to Midnight mass–I also sang in our school choir, we too went around to nursing homes, hospitals and The state hospital which we call Lakeside U because it has a lake around kind of like a castle with a moat. I always enjoyed singing Christmas carols. When we were in NY we would take in a show like the Nutcracker or Scrooge it was really nice. You have a great new year and thank you I can’t wait for your new book to come out. Kat