A Christmas countdown is on.
The run-up to Christmas takes many forms. Shopping at grocery stores and retail outlets large and small can try one’s patience. Music fills the airwaves and various venues. It is also a time of reflection, a time to release the throttle of life.
We can wonder what meaning a Christmas tree would have without gifts surrounding it, without people caring for one another. They complement a Christmas and enliven it. For one thing, it completes the adventure of searching for the right tree, for those who still hold on to the notion that it should be a real one.
The symmetry of a real or artificial tree with ornaments of one colour or shape lies at one design extreme. A tree with old and hand-made ones lies at the other. Some trees have a mixture of crafted and purchased trimming.
This is one part of Christmas. Music is another.
The level of talent, dedication and passion displayed at music events in the area is enormous. It was no doubt evident during the annual Christmas on the Mountain concert at Knox Presbyterian Church in Blue Mountain last Sunday, as it will likely be next Sunday during the annual Sounds of Joy concert at Trinity United Church. It is an opportunity to see and hear some extraordinary artists perform classical, traditional and modern music we associate with this time of year.
Handel’s Messiah is a case in point. It was written by someone more of the theatre than the church, so its drama has that feeling to it. The irony is how the Messiah became such beloved music once it was utilized as a hospital fundraiser. Once it gained traction that way, it gradually became traditional Christmas music, tilting away somewhat from Easter.
Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year, but we need to work at it. We do it with Christmas Day dinners like those held at St. George’s Anglican Church in New Glasgow and at New Horizons in Pictou. We also do it by providing shelter from the cold at such locations as Roots House and Voila’s Place in New Glasgow.
Caring volunteers have done it by taking time to stand or sit beside a kettle during the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas kettle campaign that coincide with its toy collection.
This is also a time for all of us to reach out to those who may not be doing well or experiencing loss and change. This is an especially painful time to lose friends or loved ones. It is a time to be a person who, as the saying goes, makes good times better and hard times easier for others.
That is the essence of the Christmas spirit.