It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas
tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked
through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas - Oh, not the true meaning
of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it - overspending, the frantic
running around at the last minute, the gifts given in desperation because you
could not think of anything else. Knowing he felt this way, I decided one
year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth.
The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son, who was 12 that year, was
wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before
Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an
inner-city church. These youngsters dressed in sneakers so ragged that
shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together. As the
match began, I was alarmed to see the other team was wrestling without headgear,
a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. We took
every weight class.
Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, I wish just one of them could have
won, he said. They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could
take the heart right out of them.
That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a
local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and
shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas
Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had
done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest
things about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each
Christmas, I followed the tradition.
The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last
thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys,
would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from
the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the
envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas
rolled around I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the
morning, it was joined by three more.
Each of our children, unbeknownst to
the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The
tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren
standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers
take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will
always be with us.
the Future of a Child
Sarah McLachlan Wintersong
Dreamy Winter Moods, December 24, 2006
Sarah McLachlan's voice has never sounded as dreamy as on this compilation,
infused with delicate winter melodies of comforting warmth.
Her new take on "What Child is This" is surprisingly refreshing and
she gives new appeal to many classic renditions to capture your awareness of the
intrinsic beauty contained in each song.
"River" is filled with romantic longing and desires for simpler
times..."I wish I had a river I could skate away on..." This song
brings out the ecstasy in Sarah's voice. The blending of modern and classic
songs works fairly well because Sarah maintains the mood with soft soothing
vocals and highlights of music that never overwhelm the mood.
"In a Bleak Mid Winter" has acoustic elements and lyrics setting a
modern yet romantic mood. The final track is breathless and compliments all the
elements of this album as the mood is set for listening to this again and again.
The entire album makes you want to get out some eggnog cookies and apple cider
and read a cozy novel or write Christmas cards. A winter candle may be
essential...a fireplace or fireplace DVD...most definitely!
~The Rebecca Review
An Ancient Muse
Mesmerizing, December 24, 2006
The first time I noticed the album cover, I was completely intrigued with the
distant snow-capped mountains and invitation into a cozy magical tent, you might
just happen upon in a magical forest. The music was worth the wait, with moments
that delivers on the promise of mystery. Once you enter the mood, it remains
consistent throughout and can create a world in which to relax or escape.
"Pray for their souls who died for love,
For Love shall still be lord of all"
The highlight of this album seemed to be "The English Ladye and the
Knight" until I heard "Penelope's Song" that is even more
impressive. The lyrics are romantic and dreamy:
"Long as the day in the summer time
Deep as the wine dark sea
I'll keep your heart with mine.
Till you come to me."
This track is followed by a purely instrumental "Kecharitomene" with
ancient echoes and Celtic worlds mingling as one in an enchanting fusion. The
songs have a sacred quality enhanced greatly by the soft beauty in Loreena
The instrumentation throughout is of rare beauty with "Beneath A Phrygian
Sky" capturing the very heart of the muse. The entire album is not only a
mesmerizing listening experience; it is an escape into mystery where Loreena
McKennitt whispers your soul awake.
~The Rebecca Review
Winter Solstice On Ice
Crystalline Textures and Mellow Moods, December 1, 2006
From the crystalline textures of "Yesterday's Rain" to the edgy
acoustic guitar in "What Child Is This," this album retains a
Christmas mood, while taking you occasionally into a medieval forest. The second
disc has a few more energetic selections with a bouncy "This
Christmas" and then a mellow and comforting "Christmas Wish."
"The Gift" is melancholy in mood, but a beautiful love duet that is
hopeful and moody. "I Wish I Could" continues the melancholy mood and
then funky jazz appears to break the mood and send you into mellow smooth
"Esawayo" displays some beautiful instrumentation with vocals from a
land far away. Samite also appears again with "Stars to Shine." Both
songs had me looking for more of his music.
~The Rebecca Review
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