Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bits and Pieces

Finding calm in rockin’ and rollin’ holidays

December 16, 2004

Christmas programs are in the air, on the air, and some even in your hair. You can pick up "Frosty the Snowman," "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" or "Charlie Brown's Christmas" for the kids or for those grown ups like myself who never tire of these old favorites.
You can also tune into PBS for a little more sophisticated programming such as choirs, plus the current favorites Josh Groban and Charlotte Church, thrilling us with their incredible voices.
You can also jazz it up with Norah Jones as well as the tried- and-true Tony Bennett or stay close to home and be present at the best Christmas show in town -- "Santa's Rockin Christmas Eve."
Such was the case as families and friends of the Eudora fifth-grade class and honors choir gathered to watch the members of the class, together with their teacher, Stephanie Cannady, sing, dance, and rock and roll into our hearts Dec. 7.
I have been present at a great number of such programs through the years as a parent or grandparent, but none has equaled this program for sheer energy and fun. Not only did the honors choir sing, but it also added choreography of swaying, dancing, hand clapping and finger snapping -- at least as much as the tight fit on the stage would allow.
Everyone had a part to play or a special number as they sang their way through favorites such as "Christmas is Coming and We Are Getting Fat!" "Grateful For the Little Things" as well as a poignant song "Wishing You Were Here," dedicated to their principal, Rod Moyer, who is away from home serving his country.
Every feature of the play was excellent, with the elves, reindeer and the stage crew performing to perfection. Standouts with lots of lines to learn were Lucas Becker as master of ceremonies and Swingle Kringle, Bria Carder as "Winter" the stage manager, and Katelyn Abel as the announcer. Two soloists who just knocked our socks off were Whitney Weld and Samantha Pippert. Samantha, who was also Mrs. Claus, and Whitney, who sang "This December I'll Remember You" (sung to fifth-grade teacher Matt Raugewitz, who made a surprise appearance on stage), were really excellent.
And of course, Santa's appearance as Disco Santa was also a big hit. Garrett Cleveland as Santa came swinging down the aisle in a fabulous Santa suit in the next-to-last number, took the stage, put on his sunglasses and shouted, "Okay, everybody, let's boogie!" to the delight of the audience.
He also proceeded to get down and do some fancy boogying himself in the finale number, "Santa's Rockin Christmas Eve," much to the surprise of his family, who certainly saw another side of the usually retiring Garrett. As he blew kisses to the crowd I couldn't help but think the Santa suit helped a lot.
Leaving the auditorium at the end of the show, I thought they should have performed it for the entire community on another night, but I'm sure Mrs. Cannady breathed a sigh of relief after just one show.
To the fifth-grade class together with the honors choir and Cannady, thanks to you for a delightful evening of music and fun.
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During this season of shopping and hurried preparations to the tune of bells jingling and carolers singing, I often sit in a pew at daily Mass and breathe a quiet sigh of respite from the busyness. It's so good during this busy time to take a little time out.
Advent -- the first four weeks preceding Christmas within my faith -- is a time of waiting and anticipating. It is a period time for patience, which we hardly acknowledge in our instant world of microwaves, fast food and video games.
Within our tradition, we don't sing the traditional Christmas carols until Christmas Day except "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" a song of waiting, anticipation and inviting the Lord into our world.
In one of my quiet moments, a thought came to mind about the Christmas lights that encircle our homes and find their way into our trees and bushes on our lawns. In the darkness that begins at 5 p.m., a blanket of black velvet envelops the landscape, and the Christmas lights twinkle and shine in the darkness and cheer us as we welcome friends and neighbors at programs and parties.
When the darkness gives way to light about 7 in the morning, however, the lights disappear, and we return to reality and notice that the lovely package so beautifully framed in lights the night before is only a tin utility shed in the backyard. I guess there is a moral in this somewhere.
Maybe it's appreciating and being thankful for the homeliness -- warts and all -- of the every day, as well as the beauty of the illusion because most of our life is spent in the every day. In sharp contrast, we enjoy the illusion and yearn for it at least during Christmastime as we enjoy our decorations, the lights and the spirit of joy that pervades the season. As in all things we instinctively know we need balance.
In most of my quiet moments these days my thoughts return to those who are in far off lands fighting a war that seems to have no end. As Christmas Day approaches with all of its expectations of joy, we are reminded once again for yet another year of those who will not be spending the holidays with their loved ones.
A story from World War I comes to mind of the cease-fire that descended on the battlefield on Christmas Eve when a voice was heard singing from the trenches the lovely words of "Silent Night." Seems that at the end of the song it was echoed from the other side in German -- same song, different language.
You would hope for such an occurrence in the battlefields of Iraq, but it's different this time with those of varying faiths fighting, both under the time-honored banner of God and country. It's a different time and different war. How tragic that they don't share a song that could be sent across the trenches to bring peace for at least one night.
My hope this Christmas is for a lasting peace not only for one night but for the years to come as well as we send this wish to our servicemen and women:

"Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright."
"Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright."

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