Monday morning, but an after-Christmas holiday, and quiet has descended on the town. No traffic, only the loud and restless wind in the trees, blowing blossoms and dry leaves across the lawn; and the occasional gentle creaking of the roof rafters. The birds are flying at high speed, blown by the wind. The Whitewing Doves bicker over the food table.
But the essence of this morning is a welcome stillness. To honor this, we are playing the overture to Wagner’s “Parsifal” – really “Good Friday music,” but Wagner was also strongly influenced by Buddhism when he first conceived this story. The strong, calm tones of the trumpets and horns and violins soothe and elevate the soul. Try it.
Back to Christmas. Last week when we were buying our newspaper as usual in the morning, the vendor, a tired-looking, middle-aged woman with a gentle smile, pushed an envelope into our hand. Instead of the usual request for Christmas money, there was a card inside. When we opened it, it played a piercing, tinny version of “Jingle Bells,” instantly followed by “Santa Claus is coming to town” and “We wish you a merry Christmas” – back to back.
It was the message, hand-written straight from the heart:
“To my customer. In the beauty of this season may you find happiness and joy. Merry Christmas, God’s richest blessings for the New Year. From Marcia, your Gleaner and Observer lady. Love you.”
The Petchary and her husband felt, at last, that uncomfortably warm emotion that we all search for at Christmas… and throughout the year. It’s hard to get it from sentimental films; they often take us too far into the realms of the maudlin. And the lovely animated film “The Snowman,” narrated by David Bowie, is filled with such pathos that the Petchary’s son, as a young child, regularly burst into tears at the end. Christmas songs and carols don’t always work either, unless you are deeply religious perhaps. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” for example, was always one carol you simply belted out as loudly as possible, trying to tackle the high notes.
That simple Christmas card and its heartfelt sentiments did it for us, this Christmas.
Meanwhile, let the winds blow us all into a calm and purposeful New Year.