Given current events, I’m finding myself looking for meaning this holiday season.
We met up with some friends at the New York Botanical Garden’s annual train show, a spectacle like no other, that portrays the architecture of New York landmarks in miniature, created by items from nature. Our friends proudly talked about how their son, a former student of mine, is making a living as a journalist, writing for an on-line publication devoted to ending gun violence.
We attended a local performance of George Frideric Handel’s 1741 Messiah. I was first introduced to this annual holiday favorite while in high school. We joined with a neighboring high school chorus, creating over 300 voices in unison. I seem to have memorized most of it, including the solos that I remember my friends singing. There’s nothing like hearing the thunderous voices filling the room, and standing and singing along with the Hallelujah chorus. An additional treat was seeing two of my former students, now adults nearing 30, as musicians in the orchestra. Both began playing instruments in elementary school and now work full-time as musicians and music teachers. When the bass soloist sang “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?” I wanted him to sing to everyone worldwide.
What’s a circus without children? We’d taken our three kids to the Big Apple Circus for many years as it’s my husband’s company’s holiday celebration for employees and their families. When the kids outgrew the circus, we stopped going. This year, we took our eldest grandson, 6, and his sister, 4. It was a day of firsts for them: first train ride, first subway ride, and first circus. Nothing like seeing the awe and magic through their eyes, though I admit some of the acts, while unique and artistic, had me figuratively reaching for the ibuprofen and being thankful I wasn’t the mother of the performers.
We close this week with a performance of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, written in 1602 and one of few of his plays set in Elizabethan England. I’m sure we’ll have fun following the antics of Sir John Falstaff and perhaps find wisdom in the words, “…come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness…” (Act 1, sc. I, l. 98).
As for gifts, I’ve joined every organization I can find devoted to ending gun violence. I’ll sign petitions; I’ll march and where orange; I’ll give money. That’s what my grandchildren need and what I want.