This past weekend was just dripping with Christmas. Eustacia came home Friday for her winter break from school, which started it all off. Then the orchestra rehearsed that evening for our Christmas concert—at some point, the new performing arts center will feel less new, I assume, but at the moment, it still seems brand spanking, and I get excited just walking through the door. Then we performed the concert Saturday evening after one more rehearsal. And Sunday was filled with tree decorating and cookie baking and movie watching.
As far as horn playing goes, the Christmas concert is never very challenging. A childrens' chorus is the feature, and they belt out tunes they have rehearsed for weeks. One of the boys sang a solo like a cherub—Once in royal David's city stood a lowly cattle shed—and he created such a lovely, quiet setting with just his clear and simple voice. All the other kids stood on risers and fidgeted with their hands and tugged at their clothes. They picked their noses and stared off into space and whispered to each other. Our conductor said that trying to get them all to comply was like herding cats. The way they mentally wander off so easily, I think it must be more like holding water in a sieve.
I can't be too critical, though. I discovered something about myself—if my music is not very difficult, I don't remain engaged with it as I should, and I am more likely to make silly mistakes than when my music requires constant attention. And I am more apt to be distracted by shiny things. I discovered something else, too—I have a nervous habit of adjusting my bra strap, and at the last concert, I caught myself doing it at least twice. In this new hall, with the seats up high looking down on the stage, that's a pretty unpleasant habit to have. Uncouth, in fact. I was careful not to tug at my own clothes even once at this concert.
I didn't play the second half of the concert, so I was able to take a seat with my family. The trimmed down group reconfigured to become a pit orchestra for a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors. They did a great job, with guest soloists from around Ohio who were absolutely wonderful. I have never seen the production before, nor heard the music, but I did know the story. When I was a kid, one of my older sisters had a flannel graph set of Amahl and the Night Visitors. She must have been teaching Sunday school or junior church or something, and I have vague memories of sitting at the dining room table and making up my own stories using the flannel characters of Amahl and the three kings. I remember a crutch, and maybe there was a drum of some kind. I remember loving the story back then and was so eager to see it acted out after all these years.
So, after a weekend dripping with Christmas, here is my tree in various stages of closeups. When I was little, I used to lay on the floor underneath our tree, look up in the branches and imagine being small and climbing up to explore the lights and ornaments and garland. So, here you go—climb in and enjoy the tree.