“At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.” Thomas Tusser
Today is Christmas Eve. If you had told me how we would be celebrating in 2020 around this time last year, I would have thought you were crazy. No family get-togethers? RIDICULOUS! No caroling or singing in public of any sort? OUTRAGEOUS! No holiday parties, for anyone, except virtually? What do you mean by VIRTUALLY? And Christmas shopping done mostly online—that takes all the fun out of it–so NOPE, how can that be? And being required to wear MASKS in public? BONKERS!
But this is Christmas, Christmas 2020, a year like no other and things will be different. Our observances of the holiday will be different, our family celebrations will be different (and possible not together) and our ways of plying our profession will be different.
Church musicians, I feel for you. Are you playing in a parking lot tonight? Or socially distanced in your Sanctuary with no live singing? Did you record the whole darn thing (or some of the music) last week to be streamed on your congregation’s Facebook page? Is it all being done virtually? Very few of you will be doing what you usually do and for that, I am so very sorry. I’m sure it was difficult to make the decisions you had to make.
I’m willing to guess those of you who direct school choruses had unusual holiday concerts. Were you able to figure out the best way for you to do so in your particular situation? I hope so and am sure you did the best you were able to do.
Community chorus directors may, or may not, have had a holiday concert this strange year. It might have been virtually, recorded with a click track, or Zoom just for your singers or in parking lot. Or maybe it did not happen at all, with some of your singers not willing to compromise and you not willing (or with enough energy) to convince them. We are all doing the best we can, and I hope you know you did everything you could possibly do.
It’s a Holiday Season of phrases like “doing the best we can” and “wish we could be together” and “how are you holding up” as part of our daily conversations. But we are “doing the best we can” and we do “wish we could be together” and we are “holding up as well as can be expected” and that’s fine. With our usual expectations thrown to the wind this Holiday Season, perhaps it’s time to ditch them and accept them for what they are; not what we usually do.
There is some hope for the New Year; there are two (as I write this) approved vaccines for COVID-19. My spouse, a physician, got his last week and that takes some stress and worry off my shoulders. His booster is scheduled for January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, so that’s also pretty good news too. All the rest of us should expect to be getting ours in the first months of the New Year and soon after that, things could be approaching normal for our country. We hope it will be sooner rather than later, but in any event, there is progress being made.
It would be strange and a bit inappropriate to wish you a Merry Christmas this year. So, what I will wish for you is this; Comfort (some small comfort) and Joy (some small joy) in your life this Christmas. It is the small things, I’ve learned in the last ten months, that are the most important.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/