I’m not bashful about my affection for the Christmas season. Love it! I’ve spoken with folks from every persuasion, and I’ve rarely come across a bona fide Scrooge. BTW, the musical version of Scrooge with Albert Finney and Alec Guinness is brilliant!
I’m also a guy who likes tradition. Good ones, though. So, here are a few fairly recent things we do around here that have become pleasantly habitual.
Trans Siberian Orchestra concert. This music has its roots in the group Savatage–a kind of progressive metal band that was doing concept albums back in the day. Anyone remember “Streets” or “Gutter Ballet?” Anyway, TSO (as those in the know refer to them) is a powerful blend of rock, great voices, thoughtful lyrics, and both classic and new Christmas tunes. If you’re a neophyte to TSO, go hit Spotify or Pandora or Youtube and check them out. Really. They’re that good. On the thoughtful side, listen to “Old City Bar.” On the traditional side, “Mad Russian” should do nicely.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert. On a more reflective note, this band is the best-selling Christmas act of all time. Yes, “White Christmas” is the all-time best-selling single. But Mannheim Steamroller music, composed by Chip Davis–also of Fresh Aire fame–is our generation’s Bing Crosby, so to speak. You’ve heard their music, even if you don’t know you have. There are a number of albums out now, but if you need a place to start, try “Deck the Halls” and “Stille Nachte.” The later may be the best rendition of that song ever.
Seattle Children’s Hospital. Finally, on a less musical note, let me tell you a story. Three years ago my daughter–then 4–has this idea. See, she hears about some kids who have cancer, who are being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She learns about the families and their struggles. And she says to me, “Dad, let’s get them money.” So, we started to sell things we didn’t need, save our change, etc. And then on Christmas Eve, we went down to the hospital and donated what we’d scraped up. The fine folks there gave us the “dime tour,” as they say. And bam! Christmas tradition.
In the two years since, we’ve gone twice more. We save for longer; we save more. My little girl began sending email to family asking if they wanted to throw in with us. They did. It’s my favorite thing during the holiday season.
Then, this year, we get talking about things, and we wind up discussing the elderly shut-ins in the area. So, you guessed it. We will be visiting some of these wonderful folks, taking a token gift, but mostly spending some time with them to visit and remember them, remember with them. Kids are friggin’ awesome! Christmas has come to mean a great deal more because of the thoughtfulness my daughter has shown. Cool, right?
And to bring us full circle, it reminds me of a line from “Old City Bar” by TSO, which goes: “To know who needs help, you need only just ask.” I’ll grant you that it might read the least bit maudlin, but it’s Christmastime, so I think I get a pass . . . No, scratch that. I think that’s the kind of stuff that ought to carry right on through to forever. Yeah.
So, a couple of bands with music that’ll get inside you and stir you up. And what we can do from our little corner to help a few folks. Traditions worth having.
And if you feel like donating to Seattle Children’s yourself, you can do so over here. On that front, let me share one data point. Seattle Children’s turns no one away. They gave 131 million dollars worth of free medical last year. So, we let them know that we’d be happy to have our donation go to what they call “Uncompensated Care,” to help those who can’t afford their hospital expenses.
And I’ll leave you with a few more tunes from the bands above. If you’re a music person, these really are songs you should know:
You could do worse than spending the necessary minutes to listen to all these this Christmas season.
Okay, that’s all.
Your Rock Lord