Lately I've been stressed over a lot of things. Again I am having to remind myself that you can't plan your life. There are so many things I feel that I am ready to do right now, but haven't happened, no matter how much effort I put into them.
I spend a lot of time sitting by the Christmas tree at night, which has proven to be a wonderful de-stress-or. There's something about a lit-up Christmas tree that makes you forget your troubles.
Our tree has no theme. We have several matroyshkas, carved wooden Russian people we got at a Moscow market, a whale, robot, sun, birds, roulette table, the space needle, two Lady Libertys, a bear, penguin, kite, fish, and the traditional pickle ornament. And some Ts, too.
Every ornament means something or came from someone we love. Maybe that's why the tree is such a calming influence.
If you're still looking for Christmas gift ideas, I have a suggestion.
My cousin Marshall McDonald is an incredible composer/arranger. He has released at least 10 albums, containing beautiful arrangements of hymns and original compositions. He even wrote a Suite about the Spanish Trail that was recorded by the China Philharmonic.
This past summer, Marsh invited me to be part of his latest album, This is the Christ, which was released about a month ago. The pieces on this album are inspired by the paintings of Carl Bloch about Jesus Christ. Before we recorded each piece, Marshall showed us the painting that inspired the composition. It was an incredible experience hearing it all come together.
I played his arrangement O Come, O Come, Emmanuel last night at a Stake devotional, and tons of people wanted to know where the arrangement came from. I thought, "Hey, I should put in a plug for Marshall on the blog!"
I'm taking a risk, as we're giving this to at least half a dozen people in our family for Christmas, but I don't think they read this blog, so we're probably safe.
You can purchase the album here, or it is also available on iTunes. Take a listen - you might hear some viola solos on tracks 6 and 12...
The Christmas Dreams album is also wonderful if you're looking for something more Christmas-y (you might get some viola on that one, too!).
When I was in high school, I fell in love with Perry Como.
Not only a great singer, but a great person.
My mom had listened to Perry for years, and apparently my Grandma Dorothy was a huge fan. I borrowed Greatest Hits, Volume I from my mom, and it stayed in my car for at least a full year.
My best friend Cate and I cruised around town, blasting Perry over and over again. We even had some of the songs choreographed (the dashboard became the xylophone).
"Papa Loves Mambo"
"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes"
"Catch a Falling Star"
"Round and Round"
To give you an idea, the lyrics to "Hoop-Dee-Doo" go as follows:
I hear a polka, and my troubles are through.
This kind of music is like heaven to me.
We loved Perry enough to start an unofficial fan club. Cate and I were co-Presidents. I made some screen-printed t-shirts in my Graphics class Senior year. They were awesome. The front had a stick figure of an old man with a driving cap and cane, and the back listed our favorite song titles (unfortunately, the shirts looked like I had screen-printed them myself).
[maybe this is why I made the "Unique People" page in the yearbook]
We decided to wear them to school on the same day.
(The last time I had done this was a friend was with Morgan Doll in 2nd grade. We wore our neon green t-shirts, rolled up acid denim shorts, and rolled-down neon pink socks with white keds... and matching black-and-white checkered scrunchies.)
A few days later, my friend Doug came up to me and said, "Tally, I'm so sorry. Perry Como died two days ago."
Cate and I looked at each other. "Two days ago?! The day we wore our Perry Como shirts?"
Did we KILL Perry Como?
The other day I caught myself singing along to "Christmas Bells" while waiting at the deli counter, when the four-foot-tall 80-year-old woman in front of me turned around, and looked at me in disbelief. "YOU know this song?"
The reason I bring all of this up is that I found a new Perry Como song this morning, titled "Seattle" - ! If any of you need a pick-me-up, I've compiled an abbreviated Perry Como playlist in the right-hand column of this blog. I hope you love Perry as much as I do!
"When I speak of home, I speak of the place where --in default of a better-- those I love are gathered together; and if that place were a gypsy's tent, or a barn, I should call it by the same good name notwithstanding." - charles dickens -