Friday, December 11, 2009


It's the holiday season and according to the calendar I have 14 days until the big guy (or the baby Jee, depending on if you prefer to focus on the secular or the sacred) drops by for a visit. It should come as no surprise to you that I'm just not ready.

December is a busy season for musicians. There are concerts and gigs here there and everywhere. And being good (and poor) musicians, we do everything in our power not to turn anything down, because a performance is a performance, because we are (hopefully) getting paid, and a paycheck is a paycheck, and because we can always catch up on our sleep in January.

Meanwhile, as I look over the most recent status updates of my Facebook friends, I sometimes wonder if it shouldn't be called "Guiltbook" instead. Holy Moly. I have friends who have gone sledding with their children, gushed about ruddy cheeks, frozen snowpants and hot dogs.   I have friends who have romped outside in the icy cold, who have had successful hunting trips and who have caught snowflakes on their tongue. I have friends who have marveled at the wintry weather from inside the comforts of their own home. That particular scenario is usually accompanied by soft music and mulled apple cider. I have friends who have wrapped gifts, baked cookies, gone caroling with family and friends, and generally whooped my butt in the annual holiday activities to-do list.

It's not that I'm particularly upset about this. I know what my schedule is this time of year, and I know I'll get to the essentials when the time comes. There will most likely be no wintry romping and there may not be as many cookies, but I'll do what I can with the time that I have and I'll remember that a red and white holly berry and mistletoe-infused three-ringed circus is not required to mark, remember and celebrate the Christmas Season.

And while I'm busy doing the best I can with what I've got, I'm keenly aware that the entire holiday season is just another layer of life that is added on -- ready or not. It doesn't replace the mundane routine, the difficult decisions, or the emotional and physical hardships we face every day of our lives. When added to the mix, Christmas is often as much about surviving as it is about celebrating, which, when you think about it, could also be said about life.

So while I begin to gear up for the "really big shoe" on December 25th, I'm going to be mindful of those who are busy focusing on other layers of life.  It's important that in the frenzy of shopping and eating and general merry-making to remember "the rest of the story."  I imagine that while riding on a donkey for hours on end, a very-pregnant Mary must have thought that angels and annunciations were a pretty inconvenient layer to heap upon her already complicated life at that very moment.  And yet we know that in the midst of extreme physical and emotional hardships (not to mention serious political unrest), a tiny baby was born, bringing a message of peace and love.  Some may been (rightly) focused on surviving and might not have recognized the celebration that had been interwoven in their lives.  But it was there all the same.  Just like today.

Hope in the midst of hardship.  This is the real message of the holiday season.

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