"How about 'Joy to the World?' That would be perfect for your first Christmas song, and you'll get your scale practice all in one, too!"
Miriam looked puzzled. "But it's too early for Christmas music, isn't it?"
"Too early?!" I exclaimed, "You're behind: most of us musicians started on our Christmas music in October!"
I know, I know, people always complain when the department stores break out the Christmas carols before Thanksgiving, and by the time New Year's comes around, everyone has had it up to their red nosed reindeer with sleigh bells and mistletoe, but ever since I can remember, Christmas preparation begins in October, right about the same time I imagine the elves finalize their projects and begin gift wrapping the year's colossal order. And, just as I've learned with various belated knitting projects over the years, if you want to have it ready by Christmas, you'd better get started early. (Apologies to anyone reading who has yet to receive last year's gift--it's on the way!)
Musicians aren't alone in the early jump to Christmas. Here in the far north, in the land of dwindling daylight hours and subzero temps, most people put their holiday lights up in September before the snow flies, and they'll leave them up all the way until spring breakup. Last week, while walking to rehearsal in downtown Anchorage, I noticed with childlike glee that the park by the PAC had already been transformed into a fairy tale wonderland, brimming with snow-decked spruce wrapped in twinkling blue. It's a welcome and cheerful spectacle all season long--yes, all six months of it.
Yeah, winter can be long and harsh, but ask any Alaskan, and we'd rather have snow come wintertime than not; after all, snow is bright and beautiful in the moonlight, and promotes playful activities like mushing, sledding, and skiing. Even the animals look forward to the first snowfall. You should have seen Chewy's first experience with the stuff! Determined to catch every snowflake before it hit the ground, he danced around in amazement at the sight of his own huge puppy paw prints he kept leaving behind. He's an absolute clown, always trying in vain to eat the icicles off his own whiskers. Our morning walks have become adventures on ice, dogs plunging left and right to fetch far-flung snowballs.
We only made it into the single digits today, cold enough to steal the joy out of anyone's stocking. It's gonna be a long, long time until green grass, Brother Robin. But the North Pole's just around the corner, so it only makes sense to get a head start on the festivities. I'm gonna be passing out the Christmas carols to any of my students who wish to join me in some musical merry-making. Come on everyone, hold hands around a particularly big spruce tree and sing "Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!" I myself am going to be cracking open some Nutcracker tonight; next week's rehearsal needs to have the viola part polished to sugarplum perfection, and I'm just the elf for the job.
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