Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Christmas Post

Here is my (now) Annual Christmas Post.  I wrote it in 2011 for  Heidi Poppins, but the Christmas Music is back on the radio, and I am back on my Pandora and YouTube mixes.  Just an FYI--each word in blue (on the words "Truly great music of the ages")  links  onto a beautiful performance of a beautiful Christmas Carol.

I have stopped listening to "The Christmas Station" on the radio. I used to love to turn it on in the background to help me get into a Christmas-sy mood--but now it just enrages me, so I leave it off.

There is a simple explanation (and no, it is not my hormones making me madder than David Banner on a bad day!). It is that some of the greatest music ever written is about the birth of the Christ Child--and very, very little of that great music is played on the radio. Instead, we are subjected to the worst twaddle of the twentieth century (and yes, I am referring to Wham's nausea inducing "classic" "Last Christmas" or the electronic saccharine of "Do They Know It's Christmas").

Apparently 1984 was the bottom of the barrel, song-wise--or it would have been, except that was the year that Mark Lowry wrote the words to "Mary Did You Know" (although it took another six years for someone to set it to music).

In this song, the author, Mark Lowry cites a laundry list of disabilities and sorrows that the Savior miraculously healed. Most of us know or have interacted with people who were blind, deaf, crippled or lamed in one way or another. When I was young I wondered if being "dumb" or mute still existed, because I had never met or even heard of someone who was mute. Very few people have.

Now I am the mother of one.

Partially the reason we don't hear about it is that the name has changed. Now it is called being "non-verbal"--which is actually more accurate. My daughter can not speak, but she is FAR from being the silent creature that the word "mute" implies, and, while she has neurological and developmental issues, no one who has ever met her would consider her "dumb". Also, it is statistically quite rare.

However, that doesn't change the fact that she doesn't speak. I have never heard her say "mama" or tell someone her name or how old she is. She can’t tell me where it hurts, or what she is thinking about. I would give anything to understand what is going on in her head, what she wants and how she feels.

Which is why listening to "Mary Did You Know" invariably reduces me to tears, especially when it is sung (perfectly) by Kathy Mattea.

This song is not only beautiful, reverent and thought provoking, but when she sings (at 2:07) that "the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb" I am reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Him who heals all sorrows, including my non-verbal child. I know that someday, my funny, loving, adorable daughter will look into her Savior’s face and "sing his praises".

So, instead of listening to the radio, I made myself a playlist on YouTube, so I can listen to the truly great music of the ages.

May you have a wonderful, joy filled Christmas--and may you be aware of the miracles that you take for granted every day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

"The Little Drummer Boy" made me cry

We had a neat opportunity last week. The mother of my dear friend is in a nearby assisted living facility, and each Christmas, the residents put on a show for family and friends. I find that in spite of a certain amount of randomness, mumbling, and "not-quite-with-the-tune/pitch/key-ness", it gives me much more real holiday spirit than any polished professional show on TV.

This year I noticed they had two gentlemen in the front row, shaking bells. I watched them a lot over the evening, and leaned over and mentioned to my brother that one of them had been a drummer. He NEVER lost the rhythm--never wandered, never sagged, faltered or strayed (THAT could not to be said of the other gentleman!). As a former chorister, I know that is MUCH harder than it looks to do! I am fairly certain he had had a stroke--and that he was now non-verbal. I am very attuned to the non-verbal!

As one of the very last songs, they brought out a snare drum, and introduced this gentleman as Clarence, and announced that he would be featured as they sang "The Little Drummer Boy"--a song that has never filled me with Christmas Cheer, but does occasionally make me gag. She also said "I bet you didn't know that Clarence used to play in a band professionally, and has made several records!", which didn't surprise me at all!

So, for the first time in my life, the reality of the gift that was being offered on the words "I played my drum for Him...I played my best for Him" made me cry. Because many gifts of the heart are offered silently (or with drums!) and are easy to overlook!