Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Love Christmas Music


I was so excited yesterday. As I was driving around attending things like ward choir practice, youth council, bishop's devotional, etc. the Sounds of Sunday music that I usually listen to on Sundays transformed into Christmas music. It was wonderful!!!

Listening to Christmas music is a huge tradition in my family. Some of my earliest memories of Christmas are centered around music. Since my father (Tom Jackson) was blessed with a beautiful bass singing voice, and my mother played the piano by ear, music was a huge part of my childhood. My father sang on musical programs most of his life.

(My dad is the taller dude, with the glass case sticking out of his shirt pocket.)

During his college days at good old Ricks, he took part in musical productions like Handel's "The Messiah," rendering solo performances that I understand were quite impressive.

(My dad is in the top row of soloists, the one in the middle, wearing glasses.)

As for my mother's talents, she comes from a family that tends to play multiple musical instruments by ear. We loved attending the reunions on her side of the family. Everyone brought along their guitars, accordions, etc. and rendered fantastic musical performances in the woodsies. It was great.

(This is a shot of my siblings and me singing with our dad at the Sibbett reunion.)

So you might say that music is my lifeblood. Not only did my parents ensure that their offspring had a healthy appreciation for most kinds of music, (we called it culture hour during these educational moments) but it was an important tradition to learn to sing early on. And when December rolled around each year, we sang beloved Christmas carols at the drop of a hat. Or whenever Mom sat down the piano to plunk out her favorites.

Here is a picture of my siblings and me singing Christmas songs at my paternal grandmother's house years ago. (I'm the tall one in the stripes) Our mother was accompanying us as we entertained our grandmother and uncle. My father was no doubt the one who shot the picture. I inherited my photobug tendencies from him. ;)


I can still hear my father singing Adeste Fideles as he practiced for a special Christmas program in our stake years ago. Click here for a little background on this beautiful song, more commonly known as "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." How cool is it that a little nine-year-old girl came to memorize this song in Latin just from hearing her father practice it for a couple of weeks one December?!

We sang Christmas songs all month long. And my parents made sure that we listened to classical Christmas performances repeatedly, like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," Nat King Cole's, "The Christmas Song," ("Chestnuts roasting on the open fire . . ." etc.); or numerous Christmas ditties by the duo, Sandler and Young. I think I loved their music the best. Their rich harmony appealed to me in a way I couldn't explain. Then we eventually caught on that, like my brother, I had inherited an ear for picking out harmony parts. This gift has served me well through the years, even if I tend to make up my own harmony periodically during choir practice. ;)

By the time Christmas Eve rolled around each year, we had polished several Christmas ditties to perform for family and friends. As you can imagine, a big tradition in our family was a short Christmas program where we sang all of our favorite carols.

If I was asked to select my favorite Christmas carol, it would be a toss up between Silent Night and Silver Bells. In keeping with family tradition, I taught myself to play the guitar when I was twelve-years-old. Those were the first two Christmas songs that I figured out how to play on my guitar. They've been favorites ever since.

Through the years I have tried to share my love for music and Christmas carols with my offspring. All three of my sons can play musical instruments by ear. All three of them play the guitar. Son # 1 also plays the mandolin, and an electic guitar. Son # 2 can also play the bass guitar. Son # 3 plays the drums by ear, and shortly before he left on his mission, we learned that he can play the piano by ear. Way cool. These three talented youngsters formed their own "garage" band when they were in high school. There were many fun-filled hours listening to them practice and perform for their friends. It is my hope that they in turn will teach their own families to love music.

So this week, when you start hearing Christmas ditties on the radio or in stores, don't cringe. Consider for a moment how wonderful Christmas music really is. Most of these songs touch on the true meaning of Christmas. They invite the wonderful spirit of Christmas into our lives. I think it's sad that we only have one month to appreciate them. As such, make the most of this next month. Saturate yourself in the wonderment of carols, and sing along every chance you get.

What are some of your favorite Christmas carols? (Yes, this is a hint.)

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4 comments:

Elizabet said...
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Clayton said...

I enjoyed reading your blog on Christmas music and music in your family. It was great to see the pictures of your dad and family. Tom had a wonderful voice and we enjoyed having him sing at Benji and my wedding reception. I found your blog on Tory's friends listing . Clayton

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Elizabet---enjoy that Christmas music. ;)Thanks for stopping by.

And hi Uncle Clayton. =) What a nice surprise. I'm glad you liked the pictures. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Have a great rest of the weekend.

Alysha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.