Monday, December 24, 2012

Simple Gifts

Many of the best gifts I've been given have been simple, inexpensive and often intangible things. I don't think that's any sort of a coincidence. Why else would "It's the thought that counts" be so prevalent a saying in our culture?

Last year, a few days before Christmas my friend, The Emperor, posted this on the internet.
        What negative item would you like to purge for the New Year?
      Post it below and I'll burn the list on the beach on New Year's Eve.

I gave him a short, simple but very sincere request. Something I had been trying to purge from my life for years. Some posted funny and glib requests but many posted requests to be released from the pain of emotions, hurt feelings, broken hearts and lives.

On New Year's Eve, as the new year approached, The Emperor posted this:
                              Preparing to burn the past.

Seeing the printed list of the requests made me happy because it would have been so easy to post for requests but not actually burn them. I sat 1700 miles away in anticipation- even I was surprised at how hopeful I felt knowing that someone cared enough for his friends (real and virtual, old and new) to make this symbolic gesture on our behalf.

As the sun set on 2011, The Emperor posted this:
I burned all we needed to leave behind at the edge of the world. Happy New Year, my friends.

I'm pleased to say that the thing I requested to be burned, thus purging it from my life, was a resounding success! Not only that, but it was replaced by something 1,000 times better.  I realize this seems like a post about the New Year but, to me, it's about a gift given unselfishly by a thoughtful, new friend. It's one of the best gifts I've ever been given and I thank The Emperor for his loving kindness to his friends. 

I hope this Christmas brings you blessings of love, peace and friendship which carry you into next year and throughout the entire year. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Beginning to Feel a lot like Christmas!

Maybe it's the cold front that has moved in and lowered the temps, but I finally woke up this morning feeling  like it really is just about 2 weeks until Christmas. I've spent the last two weekends watching all of my favorite Christmas shows and movies in an effort to motivate me to get moving on procuring the load of gifts I'll need for my precious nieces and nephews, but there's nothing like cool, crisp air to tip the scale towards full on peace and goodwill!

To celebrate the festive mood I'm in, I'm going to share my Christmas Virtual Mix Tape (this make vol. 4, I believe). Enjoy!

(Most of these songs are chosen because they remind me of so many Christmases past and the feeling of family and togetherness Christmas always makes me feel.)

The Christmas Tree who Ran Away- When I was little, I would listen to this song over and over again on my little portable record player!

Christmas Song (Alvin and the Chipmunks)- I loved this whole album and can remember listening to it (and dozens of others) as we would decorate the tree and house for Christmas!

I'll be Home for Christmas (The Lennon Sisters)- I have always loved the Lennon Sisters...probably because my grandparents always watched the Lawrence Welk Show, but also because I've always loved to sing harmony! This song became even dearer to me when I was away at college and is tied up with so many memories from those wonderful years.

Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley)- It wouldn't be Christmas at our house without Elvis!

The 12 Days of Christmas (John Denver and the Muppets)- No holiday would be complete without the Muppets! We had this cassette and would listen to it in the car and all sing along!

Home for the Holidays (Perry Como)- Another favorite of the many Christmas albums we would listen to when I was a child, but this song became so much more meaningful when I was in college.

Adeste Fideles (Bing Crosby)- Probably my favorite traditional Christmas song. I can remember lying beneath the tree and looking up at the lights and listening to this. Perfect Christmas memory!

River (cover by Heart)-  It was a tough call which version to include in this blog as I really love the original, but because the Road Home album is so meaningful to me, I decided to use Heart's beautiful cover of this song. The holiday can be a sad time for so many and there are a few melancholy songs I love despite the dark tone of the lyrics....this is one.

The Fruitcake Song- For three of my years in college I had the privilege of being one of the singers asked to lead the Feast of the Boar's Head at our university. I didn't mind the extra rehearsals or dressing up in medieval garb. There was plenty of beautiful and meaningful music, but this song just reminds me of Christmas, good food, finals being over and winter break looming on the horizon. I'm sure somewhere in the archives of my alma mater is a recording of our group leading the Feast, but this will have to suffice in its stead.

For Unto Us a Child is Born (from Handel's Messiah)- Midway through the first part and at the end of the scene 3 is one of the most beautiful proclamations I've ever heard!

Do the Know it's Christmas (Band Aid)- Of course I had to have an 80s song in the just wouldn't have been right without one. In addition to taking me back to my junior high days when I was sooooo in love with Duran Duran, it makes me think of an awesome group of friends that took on this song as the finale for our Tunes for Tots toy drive several years ago. Anyway, enjoy all the mullets and baby faces in this video. Laugh at Sting singing "bitter sting of tears" and Bono taking a back seat to Simon LeBon. This video is awesome!

I hope you enjoyed my Holiday Virtual Mix Tape! Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!