North of 50 - 'Tis that Season - Again

By Colin Campbell

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I am not a fan of Christmas.

I make no secret of the fact that I’d rather spend the season on a deserted island patrolled by great white sharks.

For years now, I’ve been trying to convince She-Who-Celebrates-All-Things that it would be in everyone’s best interest if I were to dip into our overdraft, purchase an airline ticket and fly out of the family’s lives for the month of December, leaving them to get on with the jolly business of roasting humbugs by an open fire. I appreciate that nobody wants a Scrooge hanging around taking the shine off their tinsel by tossing out comments like “Why don’t we just decorate the place with Visa receipts?” Or, “Why purchase a Christmas tree and single-handedly cause the seas to rise and the Lesser Sand Gulper to become extinct, when we can simply spiffy up the old weeping fig with a bit of glitter and save the planet?”

But, of course, I never follow up on my rambling rumblings. There are certain seasonal traditions that even a dedicated Ebenezer like myself would miss were I to park myself under a lone palm tree for the duration.

I would miss the music. Not the awful stuff played over and over ad nauseam in the supermarket, or on AM radio, but the likes of Handel’s spine-tingling, awe-inspiring Messiah.

Handel’s masterpiece holds special meaning for me, since I once actually got to participate as a member of the chorus. It’s a wonder I made it through the try-outs: my voice has never been able to make up its mind whether to be a bassinet or a buffoon, with the result that I sometimes sound like I’m strangling pigeons. Following the try-outs, the conductor saw fit to bury me deep within the bass section where any discordant squeaks on my part would be drowned out by the collective thunder of those around. It was a wonderful experience nevertheless.

Lacking a library on this uninhabited island, I would surely miss my two favourite seasonal readings: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the wonderful humour and lilting language of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas In Wales. Not having access to those two works would be bad enough, but what I’d miss the most would be my grandkids’ annual school Christmas concert.

I’ve probably attended a dozen of these events, beginning with our own nippers and now our daughter’s. The format hasn’t changed much: a mixture of the secular and the traditional, ranging from an updated version of ’Twas The Night Before Christmas, wherein Santa can’t get his GPS to work because he’s forgotten his password, to hesitantly squeaked-out renditions of Silent Night performed by the kindergarten class.

It’s what is unscripted that is most delightful about these events: the little reindeer in the front row Grade 1 class with her horns on a tilt who breaks off in mid-chorus to wave at her parents; the elves at the back who are a line or two behind the rest of the singers; Santa’s beard going adrift; something going wrong with the microphone; one of the Three Wise Men getting the hiccups; or an angel scowling at her teacher who has signaled to her to please stop scuffing her shoes.

So, while the thought of escaping the excesses of the season and sharing December with a few (other) hermit crabs by some coral reef sounds heavenly at this point, the grandkids will win out as always. No way I would miss the moment when, inevitably, the kindergarten Rudolph, attempting to adjust his nose, gets tangled up in the curtain and takes out the Little Drummer boy and a couple of sheep in the process.



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