Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Lessons: dreams and blessings

 
Two of my sisters already have their ornaments in storage, trees on the curb, and the last of the pine needles swept away. I heard reports from friends yesterday that leftover cookies found their way to the trash bin overnight.

It is a sleazy time to be alive and many of us are in a rush to wipe the filth of this past year from the soles of our shoes. We are disappointed in so many people we thought were admirable leaders. We are disappointed in family and neighbors who gladly escorted to power the current United States administration. We have witnessed countless acts of cruelty and sadness and loss. Yet, we are fearful of what is yet to come.

Personally, I am in no hurry to move on from Christmas 2017. 

Christmas, and its constant companion nostalgia, always trigger memories that make me more sentimental than I expect they will. Last week I recalled the year my elementary school choir sang "The Friendly Beasts" for our holiday concert. Our teacher divvied out solos to the more extroverted singers, and we all vied for the coveted "I said the donkey" verse. (I am uncertain why that particular verse was so popular, but it may have had something to do with coming first in the song and that donkeys are the cutest of the lovable manger animals.)

A classmate received the donkey-verse honors, and I was disappointed but dutifully set about memorizing the cow-verse which was to be my solo. I also memorized all of the other verses because I thought it was the most beautiful lullaby ever written, and it was about BABY JESUS so he probably knew all the words too.

The kid who was selected to sing the sheep-verse was out sick the day of our concert. Our teacher scrambled to make sure we could sing the song without the sheep soloist. It was a lot to ask of first and second graders, and we began last minute auditions. I knew it was my time to shine, and I loudly sang out (My unbridled enthusiasm often makes up for my shortcomings.):
Jesus our brother, kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable rude
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother, kind and good.
I, said the sheep with curly horn
I gave him my wool for his blanket warm
He wore my coat on Christmas morn
I, said the sheep with curly horn.
That was the year I had two solos in the holiday concert. While I really wanted the donkey-verse, I was content earning both the cow- and sheep-verses. It was a good lesson about making the most of what you are blessed with even when you don't get the thing you really want.

This lesson brings up other Christmas songs that always fill me with emotional memories. I sang two songs to my daughter when she was small every night before bed. "There's Always Tomorrow," from "Rudolph," which reminds us that today might have been a lousy but there is always a tomorrow for dreams to come true. "Count Your Blessings," from "White Christmas," reminds us that even when things seem dire now, we've come a long way from where they used to be.

Never stop believing in your dreams and always be grateful for what you have. These lessons will have to sooth us as we head into 2018. 

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