Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The week before Christmas....


Joseph Peters directing The Messiah at the T. Furth Center

Everything is decorated and ready for this week. My lights shine into the darkness just as the ancients built the bonfires on the Solstice to bring back the light. They always hoped the sun would return, and offered the light up to the Universe to bring it back.

So many celebrations this week for Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanza and the Solstice. All of these are rolled into this one week for us to joyously celebrate. For some, it is a week to hurry by as the past brings the echoes of long-ago family and friends. My own dad passed the day after Christmas letting us have Christmas day before we lost him.

Yet, we who are reading this still takes in the cold breath of life. And cold it will be. It is time to park the bike in the garage and finally pull out the snow shovel. In keeping with the season, I will tie a red ribbon on it and place it next to the back door as I know we will be spending some long hours together this coming week.

The Christmas season is so full of light and love, and completing the picture is attending The Messiah at the T. Furth on Sunday night. I bought a row of tickets weeks ago as Mary and I poured over the seating map. I am a lover of the balcony so we bought our tickets early enough to sit together.

On Sunday night I pull out the black velvet dress which I save for these holiday occasions and turn the lights down low as my sleigh (car) arrives to pick me up. How nice to have a chauffeur (Dave) to save parking spaces! We arrive early and leave the extra tickets at will call and head up to the balcony. We were one of the first to arrive, and that is just lovely as we watch friends and community members fill up all the empty spaces. Jan arrives in her winter coat and hat. We chat and laugh and catch up.

The musicians and the choir arrive and take their seats. The first chair violinist tunes up the orchestra, and everyone is silent as the director, Joe Peters, takes the stage to a thunderous applause. Joe is the director of the Steuben County Festival Choir. Under his guidance and talents, this was the 11th year for The Messiah. To a full house, he praises and thanks the donors and sponsors. The list is long, and I recognize all the names as he recites them. He gives special thanks to Jeri Mow and Lynn Syler who generously offer their talents. Joe enthusiastically talks about the funds now set up at the Steuben County Community Foundation for their financial support. This fund supports summer music camps and scholarships.

He finishes his speech and turns his back to the audience and smiles at all those involved who are sitting on the stage. My seat in the balcony has a perfect view of Joe. He isn’t just a director, he is a living piece of art. We draw our own breath in as they begin. I love knowing the folks in the choir…shop keepers, artists, colleagues. One by one I know them, and I am in awe of the work and rehearsal times they have devoted to this extraordinary work written by Fredrick Handel. Amazingly this was written in 24 days. I was twelve when my dad took me to hear this. I thought it would never end! (Well, I was twelve!) But now, it seems as if we just settle back and it is time to stand for the Halleluiah chorus.

It was, once again, spectacular. As John Williamson said, “I think it was the best ever.” I so agree. Thank you for this community event. We are blessed.

It is the week before Christmas. Snow will come. Gifts will be given. Stories will be told. Loved ones will be remembered. It is the time for kindness in every way. Please buy extra and fill the Blessing Boxes. Buy someone’s coffee. My son, Aaron, and his wife, Rachel, gifted me in an extraordinary way. All I could do to thank them was to bake an apple pie. Gratefulness abounds this season. We have so much to be grateful for in our lives. Don’t miss the magic of the Solstice tomorrow or the thrill of Christmas morning, even those who live alone. And say your prayers into the Holy Darkness.

Merry Christmas.

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