The end of the year is traditionally a time of both celebration and remembrance. We gather as family to enjoy time together, we reflect on the year that has passed, and we resolve to change some things for the future. We get a break from the day-to-day rhythm of work and find time to take a deep breath. At its best, it is a magical time for both adults and children, and it can bring out the very finest in us as citizens, friends, relatives, and family members. We just spent four days in New York City with our daughter – and it was a very special time indeed.
For better or worse, December is also a time for consumer shopping madness, holiday card gymnastics, and company parties gone amuck. Somehow, we manage to turn the reflection on its head into a time of mass hyperactivity. Our humanity gets lost in the shuffle, and with it, many people lose themselves in one way or another. Too often, the excitement of the year engulfs the joy and wonder, and we are left wishing we could reshape the holiday.
My wife and I have recently found a small piece of salvation to this conundrum through a new annual outing. We make a point to see the Seattle Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. In our three-year tradition, there have been different conductors along with a variety of choirs and some changes in the orchestra itself. Every performance has been unique in – making the ritual that much more special. I am far from an expert on music, much less on oratorios, but Messiah is a recognized masterpiece for so many reasons. Beyond the soaring Hallelujah chorus, which is a miracle unto itself, what I find most special about this composition is that I find new meaning and a new favorite part of the performance each time.
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