As I get older I find I become less and less interested in the season of good will and all its trappings. I no longer race around looking for gifts. Two years ago, when my daughter was eighteen, she told my wife and me, "No gifts."
She said she didn't need any more junk or useless possessions and had no use for unwanted gifts. This release from the burden of gift buying came as a happy relief. We gave her a little cash instead - that was still welcome! Of course I still look forward to a gift or two for myself since I'm not quite so spiritually developed as she.
Christmas is the best time of year. And, it's the worst time of year, depending who you ask. It's a time when memories of either magic or tragic childhood Christmases are triggered once again. Emotions run to the surface and spill over causing us to wallow blindly in well worn feelings.
My own Christmas memories tend to be of the cozy warm glow type but I've met plenty of people who don't feel the same way. One friend told me his mother passed away just before Christmas when he was eleven years old and the sights and sounds of Christmas reignite his deep loss on an annual basis. That can't be much fun. [or That doesn’t sound very merry at all]. Another friend said his father was a happy likable man all year round but exploded in rage and misery every Christmas day. Good grief.
You have to think what is the point of it all? Is all this Christmas malarkey really necessary? Why do we do it to ourselves? Why do we bother?
Every year as Christmas approaches I ask myself these same questions and every year I am answered in the same way. No matter how grumpy I am in the run up to yuletide my mindset gets completely turned around every year and for the same reason. It's the singing. This is the one time of year when a whole lot of people of all ages know a whole lot of the same songs and have a terrific time singing them together. It really is that simple. The joyful benefits of singing together are not to be underestimated. It's a powerful and friendly force.
I am so lucky to be an entertainer in December. I feel so good after my gigs that I can barely contain my joy. Kids, adults and old folk dress up, sometimes in silly santa hats, red noses and antlers, and sing and laugh and dance around. They smile and sing and jingle those daft little bells. It's wonderful to be the instigator of such hilarity. I go home and regale my family with stories of what I experienced. I think I get more of a festive feeling from these gigs than I do during Christmas itself which tends to be pretty low key in comparison.
So my message to you this year is, no matter how you feel about the seasonal shenanigans, get yourself out to a place where you can belt out some songs with a bunch of friendly folks. I mean it - it's the best cure for the wintertime blues.
"The only good thing ever to come out of religion was the music."
George Carlin, Brain Droppings
If you're near my city of Vancouver here are some opportunities to come and sing with me. Even if you don't play ukulele please come and enjoy the merriment at The Vancouver Ukulele Circle! As well as singing together there will be a wacky quiz plus wonderful performances too.
Friday December 12: 8pm to 11pm: Christmas singalong at the Billy Bishop Canadian Legion (1407 Laburnum Street, Vancouver)
They've had "an OVERWHELMING response" for the early evening dinner bookings so seating may be limited. It's a good time to jostle and rub elbows but if you wish to sit while you sing maybe you should consider coming to Tuesday's ukulele circle instead!
Tuesday December 16: Vancouver Ukulele Circle, Christmas Party. Come raise the rafters of the St James Hall with song! We have drinks and snacks but no liquor license so you'll have to partake of a wee drinkie before you arrive. There are many nearby places on Broadway where you can do that.
St James Hall, 3214 W.10th, Vancouver (at Trutch)
Tuesday Dec 16, 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm (doors open 6:30pm)
Only $8 - kids get in free and there's a balcony too!!
Sunday December 28 5:30pm to 7:30pm
& Monday December 29 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Burnaby Village Museum, 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby BC.
Visit the historic 1920's village: ride the vintage carousel, watch the blacksmith and sing and dance with Ralph Shaw out in the Main Street!
Burnaby Village Website
This Sunday December 14 Christmas Workshop For Ukulele Players:
4.15-5.45pm there are a few places still left for the Christmas Ukulele Workshop with Ralph Shaw. Improve your picking and strumming while learning Christmas songs!
Workshop cost: $20. All ability levels welcome.
To Register: email Jen at the Cutie Circle
Location: Room 4, Pinetree Community Centre, 1260 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
More Details Here
Bring music stand and chord chart. You may record the workshop for your own purposes.
© Ralph Shaw 2014