The Gift of Song (Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge #51 – #Haibun)

They call it a gift, yet to me it’s a mystery. They envy me for it, they want it for themselves. Yet as I wait behind the curtain, I wonder why. Is it still a gift if you don’t want it? I take a deep breath, exhale slowly. The fear overtakes me, I begin to tremble. But as the curtain rises, anxiety fades into excitement. I understand now. I stand alone on the stage, heart racing, dazed in the light. Silence fills the hall. Lips part, one voice echoes out, a small bird soaring through the air.

Strange beautiful gift

Music touches every heart

Poetry in song

My response to Colleen Chesebro‘s Weekly Poetry Challenge #51: Gift & Song. I know this is the third week in a row that I’ve participated, but I couldn’t resist trying my hand at a haibun with this prompt! I hope you enjoy the poem! Thanks for the prompt, Colleen!

Watch This Voice (Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge #50 – #Tanka)

Lost among the noise

Music takes no shape or form

Until these lips part

Silence falls, one voice rings out

And they watch my song take flight

My response to Colleen Chesebro‘s Weekly Poetry Challenge #50: Voice & Watch. Once again, I chose to write a tanka for this week’s entry. I hope you enjoy the poem! Thanks for the prompt, Colleen!

Five More Christmas Songs I Love

With the holiday season upon us and Christmas just around the corner, it’s time for another Christmas-themed blog post! Last year I shared a list of my top ten Christmas songs, but there are so many songs I love that I decided to share a few more this year. Nothing like some good Christmas music to get you into the holiday spirit!

So just for fun, here are five more Christmas songs I love listening to around this time of year. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Note: this post contains embedded YouTube videos. If you’re reading this in your email, you may need to open the page on my blog to see them.

1) “Linus and Lucy

It’s not really the holiday season until you’re hearing the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack everywhere you go. Last year I started my list with “O Tannenbaum“, while this year I’m going with the more iconic “Linus and Lucy”. Everyone knows this one for the famous Peanuts dance scene, right? It’s a Christmas classic!

2) “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Okay, maybe this one is a bit grim for Christmas, but it takes me back to my childhood, so I love it anyway! I’m sure most of us have seen How The Grinch Stole Christmas! at least once, and we all know this famous theme song. If you happen to know a real-life Grinch or two, this song is for you!

3) “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” (Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean Version)

Yes, I know I shared this song last year too, but this version from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean is too awesome to leave out of this list! Conducting the Salvation Army band evidently comes naturally to Mr. Bean; this is easily one of my favorite remixes of this classic Christmas carol!

4) “Away in a Manger

Here’s another song I picked up from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean! This one is sung by a chorus of caroling children, and it’s nothing short of angelic. One of the cutest scenes in the whole special!

5) “Welcome Christmas” (a.k.a. “Fah Who Foraze”)

Another well-known song from How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, “Welcome Christmas” covers the other side of the famous children’s story. The Whos understand about the Christmas spirit what the Grinch has yet to learn, a lesson Dr. Seuss so eloquently sums up in a few lines:

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (Dr. Seuss, 1956)

Now there’s a lesson we can all stand to be reminded of every holiday season! The company of loved ones is what truly makes a very Merry Christmas!

Bonus: if you like your holidays to be as politically correct as possible, you may get a kick out of Jon Cozart’s ridiculously hilarious Progressive Christmas Carols video. Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Joyous Kwanzaa!

What about you? What are your favorite holiday songs, Christmas or otherwise?

Dancing Lights

It’s that time of the year again, the time when the lights return and the street comes alive with their magic.

Quietly I sit in the back seat of our car, waiting anxiously for the show to begin. My parents tune the radio to the station posted on the sign in the main house’s front lawn. A moment of static passes, then the sound comes through and I start to quiver excitedly.

I press my face to the window as a voice comes on the radio. Out on the lawn, a bear made of an outline of lights has appeared and is talking in sync with the voice in our car. He welcomes us to the show and says he hopes we’ll have fun tonight. I know I will. I always do.

When the music starts, the lights on the streets dim. Another lit outline, a toy soldier playing a guitar, appears beside the bear. He softly strums the instrument as the sound of a real guitar plays through the radio. It starts out soft, then suddenly the music flares up and the decorated houses along the street come to life. Lights flash in colored patterns atop the roofs and in the lawns. My eyes shine wide with wonder; it’s finally begun!

A voice starts to sing over the music and the bear moves his jaws in sync with the words. Around him, the lights dance to the rhythm of the remixed Christmas carol he’s singing. Snowflakes twinkle in alternating patterns on the trees. Reindeer pulling sleighs glow on the rooftops. Christmas trees spin on the lawns and flash in bright patterns in the driveway of a house behind us. Outlines of familiar characters shine through a light grid on the roof. And all the while, every single light keeps perfect time with the music. It’s a magical sight!

My parents and I watch the lights dance to a handful of Christmas songs, many old favorites, some new tunes, and each more amazing than the last. Finally, the bear returns to speaking to thank us for watching the show and to ask us for donations to a children’s hospital. My parents must be able to read my mind because they turn around to hand me a $50 bill before I can say a word. I smile as I take it before I rush outside. As I drop the bill into the donation box, I look up at the bear to wink at him. I can almost swear I see him wink back at me.

“Merry Christmas!”

It’s the most magical time of the year. I can’t wait for next year’s Christmas light show!

My Top Ten Christmas Songs

Charlie Brown ChristmasWhat’s Christmas without Christmas music? Since I wrote a post on my favorite Christmas stories last year, I thought this year I would share my favorite Christmas songs! I have plenty of fond childhood memories of listening to seasonal music around this time of year, and it always inspired me to get into the holiday spirit.

So to help you get a little more into the spirit of the season, here’s a countdown of my ten favorite Christmas-themed songs! Enjoy, and have a very Merry Christmas!

10) “O Tannenbaum”

A Charlie Brown Christmas, anyone? This is probably one of my favorite songs from Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack, not to mention I used to have lots of fun making up parodies of “Oh Christmas Tree” with my sisters when we were kids!

9) “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

I’ve lost count of how many times this song has gotten stuck in my dad’s head, as I would so often hear him singing “And so this is Christmas…” around the end of the year. Christmas is a time of love and peace, and this song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is always a good reminder of the real joy we should be spreading throughout the world!

8) “Jingle Bell Rock”

Okay, I admit it: this song is on my list because of Mean Girls. After all the times I’ve laughed over this scene with my sisters, how could I possibly leave it out?

7) “What’s This?”

Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas totally counts as Christmas music! Jack Skellington discovering the magic of the holiday season is by far my favorite scene from Tim Burton’s classic 1993 film, thanks in no small part to Danny Elfman’s charming music!

6) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

“Rudolph” is one of those childhood carols that I used to sing with my sisters at family gatherings. I would sing the main part and they would chant the backing lyrics (“Like a lightbulb!”). Laugh if you want, but I can assure you we were quite adorable back in the day!

5) “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

I remember having to sing this song for a Christmas show in my middle school chorus group, and it was one of my favorites of the whole set. The holiday season isn’t complete without a handful of songs about the birth of Jesus Christ!

4) “Carol of the Bells”

I love pretty much any version of this harmonious carol, but Pentatonix take it to a whole new level of epic. Goosebumps every time. Seriously, is there anything these guys can’t sing?

3) “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

This is a particularly powerful and moving Christmas carol, and it’s actually one of a handful of songs I wish I could have learned to play on the piano. Whether sung by a choir or played acoustically, I always find this song incredibly beautiful. Of course, nothing tops the Salvation Army band’s rendition from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean! Hilarious!

2) “O Holy Night”

Ask my mother what her favorite Christmas song is and she will answer without hesitation: “O Holy Night”. Nearly every Christmas, she would ask me to sing it for the family. At the very least, hearing this song gives me chills, and when sung at it’s very best, it can even move me close to tears. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever written!

1) “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”

While it may not be the most beautiful song in this countdown, “The Christmas Song” is number one on my list because it’s my favorite to sing! I have many good memories of singing this song for my family and friends, as well as listening to various lovely renditions by well-known artists. With a relaxing melody and lyrics about all the joys of the holiday season, it’s the perfect song for getting into the Christmas spirit!

I hope you enjoyed my list of favorite holiday songs! Thanks for listening, and Merry Christmas!

What about you? What are your favorite Christmas/holiday songs?

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