The Most (insert inappropriate adjective here) Time of Year?
I’ll admit it. I’m one of those cheesy people who turns on the holiday music as soon as the radio station switches to the all-holiday format. This year, that meant the week before Thanksgiving. And yet, as December progresses, and I get busier and busier, I wonder if it really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Aside from the normal hustle and bustle that accompanies the seasonal shopping, cooking, school and worship pageants, and holiday parties, I play the oboe. For those of you who don’t play the oboe, or aren’t closely associated with an oboist, you may not know that this is pretty much our busiest month of the year. It’s pretty busy for brass players too, and some string players (especially if you’re playing the Nutcracker). But just ask any oboist…we’re hustling from church service to choir concert to Nutcracker rehearsal to holiday pops concert. And right about the time I start to forget what my house looks like, and what it feels like to sit down to a home-cooked family dinner, and question why it is I’m killing myself with all this rushing, I play a couple concerts like the ones I just had these past weekends.
First I had the privilege of playing with the Windy City Chorus, the Midwest’s longest-running gay chorus, and their sister chorus, Aria. It was an amazing, funny, uplifting, inclusive, heart-warming show, and I felt honored to be a part of it. And this past Friday (and again this coming Saturday), I had the chance to play with Mannheim Steamroller as part of their crazy Midwest tour. The shows I played were not in big cities–one was in Burlington, IA, and the other is in Bloomington, IL. It’s not a glamorous gig, and most of my students and some of my friends were like, “Who’s Mannheim Steamroller?” But for any child (or adult) of the 80s, Deck the Halls with synthesizer is as much a Christmas staple as the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet of Little Drummer Boy. It was such a fun show to play, and even more gratifying was the two standing ovations we got from the packed house. And looking out during the show, seeing the audience light up at various songs, seeing a child in the front putting her hands up to catch the fake snow with a huge grin on her face, and hearing people chatting excitedly about how good the show was on the way out all made it one of the best moments of the season.
After all, I think that’s what it’s all about: helping people remember the magic they felt as children, when anything was possible, and everything was more or less right with the world. And just sharing the love, happiness, and joy of the season. Suddenly, being an oboist in December doesn’t seem quite so bad!
I look forward to playing a few more familiar tunes yet this month, and most of all, I hope to see everyone on Friday at our first official A Fifth House Christmas concert!