|Photo credit: Sonny Hurd|
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
Elf movie devotees will recognize that quote instantly. Who among us doesn't need a whole lot of Christmas cheer at the end of a pandemic-affected year?! All of us need all the happiness we can muster up. Perhaps that's why some people started listening to Christmas music while the Halloween ghosts and goblins were still running around gathering socially distanced- placed treats!
Not this girl, however. I sortof need a Christmas tree in my sights before my vocal chords loosen up and let fly with the holiday vibes. But the tree is now in place and working its magic. I find myself drawn to the piano in the corner behind it, pulling out the bench and squeezing between ornament-dangled branches for a quick songburst before heading to bed and letting visions of sugarplums fill my head.
I smile to realize I was raised that way.
Every night during the holiday season when I was a little girl, our family of five sat around the Christmas tree and the kids took turns banging out a carol on the piano while the rest of the family sang along. I think it was my mom's way of wrangling a few extra minutes of piano practice out of reluctant kids before the approaching Christmas recital at our teacher's house. Whatever the reason, we gathered and played and sang five songs, multiple verses, every... single... night.
How on earth did we manage it? It's all we can do to gather our families around the dinner table now, let alone around a Christmas tree at night. Of course this was long before the distractions of cell phones, video games and binge-watching favorite shows on Netflix. But haven't all generations simply had too much to do in December to make time for activities like this?! I know that in raising my own kids, December was a mad dash to get everything done by the 25th day of the month...the shopping, baking, decorating, cards, wrapping... and it was only my husband's insistence that we adhere to certain traditions that kept the holy in the holiday even as we decked the halls.
I guess my parents knew it was important. It kept our hearts focused on the Reason of the season, even while allowing us the joy of gazing at the pretty lights and beautifully wrapped packages in front of us. And it worked. Surely it must have, for me to remember the wonder of it some six decades later, and to be drawn back to that piano bench once more.
Our houses may be a little emptier by necessity this year than in days gone by, but our hearts don't have to be. If you're feeling a little down, fill your own cup of cheer by singing loudly for Jesus to hear. You don't even need a piano. He's all ears and eager for your nightly lullaby. Give it a try.
“O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”