December Deanery


By Kari Miller

Practically everyone agrees that the winter holiday season is one of the most difficult times of the year. Short days and colder temperatures make us feel like sinking into a state of hibernation, but instead we find ourselves swept up in a whirlwind of shopping, entertaining, decorating, eating, drinking and of course, music-making. We scramble at a hectic pace from one obligatory event to the next, becoming more and more tired, cranky and overwhelmed. There doesn’t seem to be time to catch a breath, let alone get a good night’s sleep or a bit of exercise. Small wonder that so many people (and not just church musicians) report feeling stressed or depressed during the holidays. So if the season of peace and goodwill has you feeling prickly, antisocial or glum, you are in good company. One common-sense remedy would be to give ourselves permission to do a little less. Do you really need to bake those extra-special Christmas cookies? Probably not – stick with something simple. Do you really need to say “yes” to yet another party invitation? Probably not – odds are you won’t even be missed. Do you really need to keep struggling with that troublesome anthem your choir hates? Probably not – substitute something familiar and they will thank you for it! We often go to such lengths in trying to fulfill our vision of the perfect, magical season that we totally defeat the purpose, creating a nightmare labyrinth of demanding tasks and soul-deadening drudgery. We find our way out at the end, but the mystery and beauty, as well as any chance for spiritual renewal, have passed us by.

It doesn’t help that we are surrounded on every side by images which only reinforce our high expectations. Every storefront and TV screen shows us, in subtle or blatant fashion, how we ‘should’ feel and act, and what heartwarming activities (or latest trends) should be shared with our family and friends in order to properly experience the season of love and joy. We compare ourselves with this impossible greeting-card ideal and of course we do not measure up. We feel defeated – or we take up the challenge, holding tight like a bulldog with a bone. Maybe, just maybe, it would bring us closer to the true spirit of the season to simply be thankful, lighten up, and let it go. Let it go. This is usually easier said than done, so as encouragement (or therapy) I give you this little ditty, dedicated to the mental health of choir directors everywhere…
“Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!”
(to be sung to the tune of “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”)

Oh the sound of the choir is frightful
Though the music’s so delightful
And my cool’s about to blow
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!

It doesn’t show signs of stopping
As the sour notes keep up-cropping
The basses slide down too low
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!

When we finally sing “Amen”
How I’ll cringe knowing all that went wrong
If they’d listen just now and then
At least it might sound like a song

My wrath is slowly dying
For, dear choir, I know you’re trying
But as long as you bring me woe
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!