December 02, 2013

Scrooge's Christmas Wish

Listening to a recent broadcast of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" from the BBC,  my family and I have dipped into a wonderful, rich element of our culture's Christmas heritage.  The reading is very well done, and we're enjoying it greatly.  There comes a scene when Scrooge is in company with the Ghost of Christmas Present and he is taken to the house of his nephew.

The party at the nephew's house has turned to music, and Scrooge is moved to introspection:

"Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp and played, among other tunes, a simple little air (a mere nothing: you might learn to whistle it in two minutes) which had been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding-school (Scrooge's young sister), as he had been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past.  When this strain of music sounded, all the things that Ghost had shown him came upon his mind; he softened more and more and thought that if he could have listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the kindness of life for his own happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley."

I have not read the book in many years, but in this abridged reading we're listening to, this is the first time that the present Scrooge is really moved to examine himself and who he might have been.  And what took him to that place?  The memory of a song.  The memories that song flushed out, like startled birds from a bush.  It moved him to think that he "might have cultivated kindness" - what a wonderous thing for old Scrooge to consider!

This time of year is full of song - you can't really get away from it.  Hopefully you are surrounding yourself by it intentionally.  Time and again music will remind us of Christmases past, and the people with whom we spent those seasons.  Much joy can come from these memories.  Also longing and sadness for people gone.  I encourage you to spend some time with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and consider how the scenes that are playing out in your December will be remembered when looked back upon.

In my home we have so much to be thankful for this season, and as my children grow my house is becoming full of music not my own.  It's wonderful.  Making music with my choir and improvisation groups encourages me that to spend time creating the sounds we do in community is incredibly important.  The musical memories we form will carry us through the unexpected, and even prove valuable when other faculties leave us, as music therapy and scientific research are bearing out in unprecedented detail.

Scrooge's heart was softened with a song.  So was the Grinch's in the famous Dr. Seuss book.  Where is your own heart this season?  If it's not honestly where you wish it was, put on the Boney M Christmas Album - or Slade - or Barbara Streisand - or Spiritus Chamber Choir - or House of Doc - or whatever music takes you to happy holiday memories, and soak up the goodness.

As ever, I encourage you to get out and listen to some live music this season - there is so much to choose from. 

Best wishes for a warm, wonderful, musical Christmas.  May the blessings of the season be heaped upon you.

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