December 2016 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Many moons ago, twelve to be exact, we started this tradition of hosting an annual Christmas Celebration in our home.
I can trace back the origin to two events. First, Philip and I were invited to a Soup and Sing. We brought the soup; the host provided a guitarist. It was so peaceful as we sat around their living in a small circle and sang Christmas carols. Around that time, I was still giving piano lessons. Incredulous to me, I was struck by how my students knew so few Christmas carols; after naming Jingle Bells, Rudolph, and Frosty – it was slim pickings.
Our Christmas Celebration starts with the big locust tree in the front yard. The night of the party, we fill the lower limbs with candlelit mason jars (real candles!) It’s breathtaking.
Singers from the local high school stand in the great room and great the guests as they arrive. The guests bring the food and we provide the beverages and the chocolate fountain for the kids.
I make a garnish bowl with herbs from my garden.
The kids make a sugar wafer tower for the chocolate fountain.
The guest list has changed a little through the years. Grandpa and Grandma are ready for any singing assignment.
Santa arrives at 7pm and is greeted by the strains of “You’d better watch out. You’d better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why…”
Some years, Santa’s glasses fog up when he comes in from the cold. Luckily, he’s used to it – and, after all, it is Minnesota.
Young and old, nice and naughty – all get their time with Santa. Folks file through to get their picture taken with Santa by the tree. I have it on good authority that he may be part of a mannequin challenge this year.
There are guest musicians playing the guitar in the basement.
All the kids know that extras of the best snacks are stashed upstairs in the kitchen.
Speaking of elves, this crew has been in charge of decoration and celebration for over five years. Nothing slips by them – and if it does, they catch it and wrap it.
This elf, in particular, wants things just a certain way – and I couldn’t agree more!
Before the caroling begins, Santa bids everyone a good night. Then it’s time to dim the lights. (It turns out that people sing better when the lights are lowered – so if you decide to sing, dim the lights first!)
We start with Auld Lang Syne and continue alphabetically through the set list until we end on We Wish You A Merry Christmas. That hour, with all of us singing together, is Christmas. to me.
It’s nostalgic, of course, but also hilarious. There’s a hundred foot jingle bell ribbon for everyone to shake during Jingle Bells. Everyone breaks into groups for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Last year, I added Sharon Jones, “Big Bulbs”. This year, we will sing it again and wish her Merry Christmas in heaven.
During our chat this past fall, author Anna Thomas asked, “What are we without our traditions?” The answer was in the question – we are without. Traditions bring honor and completeness. The countless little actions and tasks that are completed every December all lead up to that one hour of singing together. It is in that hour of singing that we attune to the entire point of our Christmas Celebration: togetherness.
Well, that’s the View From Up Here for December 2016.